Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Our preferences change to reflect the choices we make, even three years later

Date:
October 3, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Whether we're choosing between presidential candidates or household objects, research shows that we come to place more value on the options we chose and less value on the options we rejected. This phenomenon has been demonstrated in numerous studies, but the studies have only examined preference change shortly after participants make their decision. In a new article researchers examine whether choice-induced changes in preference are fleeting or long-lasting.

You're in a store, trying to choose between similar shirts, one blue and one green. You don't feel strongly about one over the other, but eventually you decide to buy the green one. You leave the store and a market researcher asks you about your purchase and which shirt you prefer. Chances are that you'd say you prefer the green one, the shirt you actually chose. As it turns out, this choice-induced preference isn't limited to shirts. Whether we're choosing between presidential candidates or household objects, research shows that we come to place more value on the options we chose and less value on the options we rejected.

One way of explaining this effect is through the idea of cognitive dissonance. Making a selection between two options that we feel pretty much the same about creates a sense of dissonance -- after all, how can we choose if we don't really prefer one option over the other? Re-evaluating the options after we've made our choice may be a way of resolving this dissonance.

This phenomenon has been demonstrated in numerous studies, but the studies have only examined preference change shortly after participants make their decision. Existing research doesn't address whether these changes in preference are actually stable over time.

In a new article published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researcher Tali Sharot of University College London and her colleagues examine whether choice-induced changes in preference are fleeting or long-lasting.

The researchers asked 39 undergraduate participants to rate the desirability of 80 different vacation destinations, rating how happy they think they would be if they were to vacation at that location. They were then presented with pairs of similar vacation destinations and asked to choose which destination they would prefer. The participants rated the destinations again immediately after making their choices and once more three years later.

To test whether a sense of agency over the decision makes a difference for choice-induced changes in preference, the researchers looked at participants' preferences when the participants made the choices themselves and when a computer instructed the participants' choices.

The results suggest that the act of choosing between two similar options can lead to enduring changes in preference. Participants rated vacation destinations as more desirable both immediately after choosing them and again three years later. This change only occurred, however, if they had made the original choice themselves. The researchers observed no change in participants' preferences when the computer instructed their choices.

Sharot and her colleagues argue that fact that this effect is robust and enduring has implications for a diverse array of fields, including economics, marketing, and even interpersonal relationships. As Sharot points out, for example, repeatedly endorsing a particular political party may entrench this preference for a long period of time.

This study was supported by a Wellcome Trust Program Grant to Raymond J. Dolan, a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship to Tali Sharot, and a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship to Stephen M. Fleming.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. Sharot, S. M. Fleming, X. Yu, R. Koster, R. J. Dolan. Is Choice-Induced Preference Change Long Lasting? Psychological Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1177/0956797612438733

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Our preferences change to reflect the choices we make, even three years later." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121003132416.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, October 3). Our preferences change to reflect the choices we make, even three years later. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121003132416.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Our preferences change to reflect the choices we make, even three years later." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121003132416.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins