Motivation and Capacity in the Selection of Comparison Standards

Karim Kassam, Harvard University, USA
Carey Morewedge, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University, USA
Gains may be valued by comparing them with alternatives that are present at the time of comparison or with alternatives that are absent. We offer a two-stage model in which people initially make "present comparisons," and subsequently make "absent comparisons" when they have sufficient cognitive resources and motivation. People who won the greater of two amounts were equally happy when they won $5 as when they won $3; but people who won the lesser of two amounts were happier with $5 than with $3. The latter effect disappeared when cognitive load prevented people from making absent comparisons.
[ to cite ]:
Karim Kassam, Carey Morewedge, and Daniel Gilbert (2010) ,"Motivation and Capacity in the Selection of Comparison Standards", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 215-218 .