Expectation-Driven Separation in Preferential Choice Processes

Kurt A. Carlson, Duke University
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - In binary choice, expected separation is the non-directional expected difference in the holistic value of two alternatives. This article explores three consequences of expected separation. First and most basic, expected separation influences consumers’ perceived separation between the two alternatives. Second, to adjust their perceived separation toward what was expected, consumers bias their attribute attractiveness evaluations. Third, consumers adjust their attribute weights to confirm their expectations. Two consumer choice studies support these claims. Relative to those expecting low separation, participants expecting higher separation perceive greater separation, exhibit more distortion of attribute attractiveness evaluations to favor one of the alternatives, and give relatively more weight to attributes that favor one of the two options (on average). Implications of this work and potential extensions are discussed.
[ to cite ]:
Kurt A. Carlson (2004) ,"Expectation-Driven Separation in Preferential Choice Processes", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 31, eds. Barbara E. Kahn and Mary Frances Luce, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 39-40.