Special Session Summary Effects of Thinking on Consumer Decisions

Ziv Carmon, INSEAD
[ to cite ]:
Ziv Carmon (2003) ,"Special Session Summary Effects of Thinking on Consumer Decisions", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, eds. Punam Anand Keller and Dennis W. Rook, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 14.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, 2003     Page 14

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

EFFECTS OF THINKING ON CONSUMER DECISIONS

Ziv Carmon, INSEAD

Three papers were presented in this session, followed by a discussion lead by Dawn Iacobucci. Their abstracts appear below.

 

OPTION ATTACHMENT: WHEN DELIBERATING MAKES CHOOSING FEEL LIKE LOSING

Ziv Carmon, INSEAD

Klaus Wertenbroch, INSEAD

Marcel Zeelenberg, Tilburg University

Common sense suggests that consumers make more satisfying decisions as they consider their options more closely. Yet we argue that such close consideration can have undesirable consequences because it may induce attachment to the optionsCa sense of prefactual ownership of the choice options. When consumers then select one option, they effectively lose this prefactual possession of the other, non-chosen option(s). This yields a feeling of discomfort (choosing feels like losing) and an increase in the attractiveness of the forgone option, compared to its appeal before the choice. A series of nine experiments provides evidence of this phenomenon and support for our explanation.

 

WHEN AND WHY THE BACKGROUND CONTRAST EFFECT EMERGES: THE ROLE OF THOUGHT AND APPLICABILITY

Joseph R. Priester, University of Michigan

Utpal M. Dholakia, Rice University

The Background Contrast Effect provides a guide as to how past decisions influence subsequent ones. Specifically, it demonstrates that the trade-off value between two attributes in a given choice influences subsequent such choices. In this research, we seek to understand when and why this effect emerges. In four studies, we provide evidence that the Background Contrast Effect is most likely to emerge when decisions are thoughtfully made by individuals and when those prior trade-off values are perceived as applicable to current choices. Implications and future research opportunities are discussed.

 

EFFECT PROPENSITY: GENERIC EFFECTS ON PREFERENCES BETWEEN DEFAULT/INACTION AND NON-DEFAULT/ACTION OPTIONS

Itamar Simonson, Stanford University

Thomas Kramer, Stanford University

Maia Young, Stanford University

People often choose between "action" and "inaction" options, such as between a sure gain and a gamble or between a low cost/low return option and high cost/high return option. Previous research has investigated the impact of a variety of task and context effects (e.g., involvement, providing reasons for choice, anticipating regret) on such choices. To explain the observed effects, researchers presented theories that accounted for the particular results.

In this research, we propose that a "control" ("no-manipulation") task often acts effectively as a condition that favors "inaction" options. In other words, the "control" captures much of the share potential of inaction-type options. As a result, most other manipulations, selected randomly, are more likely to favor "action" alternatives. Thus, instead of focusing on each manipulation separately, we suggest that there is a common underlying factor that contributes to a wide variety of observed effects.

We examine this proposition in the context of two primary choice problems,: (a) a set consisting of a low price, lower return brand and a higher price, higher return option, and (b) a sure gain/loss vs. a gamble involving a certain probability of winning/losing an amount and a probability of winning/losing nothing. Our predictions were supported in a series of studies using a variety of seemingly unrelated manipulations, such as anticipating regret, rating of individual options, articulating reasons for choice, involvement, being evaluated, and incidental exposure to choices of others. We also examined the mechanisms underlying these results and alternative explanations.

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