Complicating Choice

Rom Schrift, Columbia University, USA
Oded Netzer, Columbia University, USA
Ran Kivetz, Columbia University, USA
A great deal of research in consumer decision-making and social-cognition has explored consumers’ attempts to simplify choices by bolstering their tentative choice candidate and/or denigrating the other alternatives. In the present research, we investigate a diametrically opposed process, whereby consumers complicate their decisions in order to feel that they are investing enough effort to make an adequate choice. We propose a unifying “effort-compatibility” principle that accounts for simplifying processes, as well as complicating processes that bolster unimportant attributes or reverse the valence of ordinal attributes. Five studies demonstrate that consumers not only simplify and bolster the difficult choices they make, but also make harder and less appealing the obvious choices they fake. This “illusion of choice” often leads consumers to agonize over (non) decisions.
[ to cite ]:
Rom Schrift, Oded Netzer, and Ran Kivetz (2010) ,"Complicating Choice", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 115-117 .