When Increasing Control Decreases Consumers’ Well-Being: the Negative Psychological Consequences of Choosing

Session Chair: Simona Botti, Cornell University
Discussion Leader: Rik Pieters, Tilburg University

SESSION TITLE:  “When Increasing Control Decreases Consumers’ Well-Being: The Negative Psychological Consequences Of Choosing”



PAPER 1: “Avoiding Pain: Choice Preferences and Emotional Responses in Medical Decision Contexts”

Authors:         Simona Botti, Cornell University

Sheena S. Iyengar, Columbia University

Kristina Orfali, University of Chicago


Short Abstract (100 words)

Prior research found that people prefer choosing and that having choice generates more positive affect. This research investigates the emotional consequences of choosing for others in an aversive, highly consequential context: infants’ healthcare. Results from ethnographic and laboratory studies show that parents making a life-or-death decision for their children experience more negative emotions than those for whom the same choice is externally dictated. In addition, participants are ambivalent in their preference for choosing: Although they cherish autonomy, they also desire to avoid painful decisions. Distress for making an aversive choice appears therefore to disrupt the benefits of choice on well-being. 



PAPER 2: “When Consumers Choose to Restrict Their Options: Anticipated Regret & Choice Set Size Preference


Authors:         Cenk Bülbül, New York University

Tom Meyvis, New York University



Short Abstract (99 words)

Consumers usually prefer to “keep their options open” and choose from many alternatives. We examine how characteristics of the decision environment can activate different types of anticipated regret, which in turn differentially impact consumers’ preference for more alternatives. We demonstrate that, while the anticipation of regret often magnifies consumers’ preference for more options, it can also lead consumers to prefer smaller choice sets instead. For instance, when consumers are primed with an exemplar from the choice set, the anticipation of regret highlights the difficult comparisons between the alternatives in the choice set, leading consumers to voluntarily restrict their options.        



PAPER 3: “Choosing Inside The Box: When More Choice Narrows Our Thinking”


Authors:         On Amir, University of California, San Diego

                        Sheena S. Iyengar, Columbia University


Short Abstract (63 words)

Consumers face decisions with varying amounts of choice. We propose that larger choice-sets generate narrower and more mundane thinking. Specifically, we predict less creative thinking, or greater thinking within "the box" with greater choice, because the choice categories are invoked more strongly, hindering associations to non-category schemas. We demonstrate this effect in different consumer contexts, as well as its effect on subsequent choices.
[ to cite ]:
Session Chair: Simona Botti and Discussion Leader: Rik Pieters (2006) ,"When Increasing Control Decreases Consumers’ Well-Being: the Negative Psychological Consequences of Choosing", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 33, eds. Connie Pechmann and Linda Price, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 455-457.