I Feel Therefore I Am (Or Not)- the Role of Affect in Decision Making

Session Chair: Deborah Small, University of Pennsylvania
Discussion Leader: Antoine Bechara, University of Iowa

Session Name:  I feel therefore I am (or not) – The role of affect in decision making


Papers: (Presenters indicated by *)

A Bite to Whet the Reward Appetite:  Influence of Sampling on Appetitive Behaviors

Monica Wadhwa,* University of Iowa

Baba Shiv, Stanford University

Stephen Nowlis, Arizona State University


The French have a saying "L'appetit vient en mangeant” or appetite comes with eating. Consistent with this French expression, this research proposes that sampling a morsel of food or a quaff of drink high in affective quality can not only enhance subsequent consumption of a drink (Pepsi) but is likely to prompt activation of a general reward system making individuals seek anything rewarding. Moreover, we show that the effect of reward cues is stronger for individuals overactive on the Behavioral Activation Scale. Further, the results confirm that the effect of reward cues on future consumption is greatly attenuated if the reward drive is satiated before the consumption of the drink.


Repenting Hyperopia: An Analysis of Self-Control Regrets

Ran Kivetz, Columbia University

Anat Keinan,* Columbia University

This article demonstrates that supposedly farsighted (“hyperopic”) choices of virtue over vice evoke increasing regret over time. We argue that the passage of time differentially impacts the affective antecedents of self-control regrets. Accordingly, we demonstrate that greater temporal perspective attenuates affective indulgence guilt but sustains and even accentuates wistful feelings of missing out on the pleasures of life. We also show that reversals in self-control regrets affect subsequent, real choices. Whereas short-term regret motivates consumers to choose virtue, long-term regret impels them to select indulgence. We rule out alternative explanations and discuss the theoretical implications for self-control.


Sympathy and Callousness: The Impact of Deliberative Thought on Donations to Identifiable and Statistical Victims

Deborah A. Small,* University of Pennsylvania

George Loewenstein, Carnegie Mellon University

Paul Slovic, Decision Research


When donating to charitable causes, people do not value lives consistently. They make choices intuitively based on affective reactions. Money is often concentrated on a single victim and far less concern exists for statistical victims.  In a series of field experiments, we show that providing statistical information and getting people to think in an analytic mindset about donation decisions has perverse effects: individuals give less to identifiable victims but did not increase giving to statistical victims, resulting in an overall reduction in caring and giving.  Thus, it appears that, when thinking analytically, people discount sympathy towards identifiable victims but fail to generate affect (sympathy) toward statistical victims. 



Discussion leader: Antoine Bechara, University of Iowa
[ to cite ]:
Session Chair: Deborah Small and Discussion Leader: Antoine Bechara (2006) ,"I Feel Therefore I Am (Or Not)- the Role of Affect in Decision Making", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 33, eds. Connie Pechmann and Linda Price, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 150-154.