Forgotten Rejections and the Rebuilding of Personal Preferences

Leif D. Nelson, New York University
Gulden Ulkumen, New York University
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - All decisions are the result of a complex interplay between approach and avoidance motives. The relative emphasis that is placed on these two motives depends on the decision context. Sometimes, consumers must decide between two aversive options, and final selections are simply the result of rejecting the worst alternatives. In spite of this, people tend to interpret actions as choices, rather than rejections. Previous research has shown that observers tend to perceive approach motives in the decisions of others, even when their own decisions are guided by avoidance motives (Miller & Nelson, 2002). This notion is consistent with the work on the positivity bias, which shows that people initially default to a liking response when evaluating stimuli, and only subsequently adjust to a disliking response (Cacioppo, Gardner, and Berntson 1999; Diener and Diener 1996; Boucher and Osgood 1969; Herr and Page 2004). Although the robustness of this inferential bias has been demonstrated, the underlying processes and the consequences for subsequent decisions has not been studied.
[ to cite ]:
Leif D. Nelson and Gulden Ulkumen (2005) ,"Forgotten Rejections and the Rebuilding of Personal Preferences", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 32, eds. Geeta Menon and Akshay R. Rao, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 69-70.