Choice Construction Versus Preference Construction: the Instability of Preferences Learned in Context

On Amir, University of California San Diego, USA
Jonathan Levav, Columbia University, USA
Preference consistency implies that people have learned their willingness to trade off attributes. We argue that this is not necessarily the case. Instead, we show that when preferences are learned in context (e.g., through repeated choices made from a trinary choice set that includes an asymmetrically dominated decoy), people learn a context-specific choice heuristic (e.g., always the asymmetrically dominating option), leading to consistent preferences within a context, but less consistent preferences across contexts. In contrast, repeated choices from sets containing only two options impel people to learn their subjective attribute weights, yielding to consistent preferences both within and across contexts.
[ to cite ]:
On Amir and Jonathan Levav (2007) ,"Choice Construction Versus Preference Construction: the Instability of Preferences Learned in Context", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 692-695.