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Choice-induced preference change and the free-choice paradigm: a clarification


Alós-Ferrer, Carlos; Shi, Fei (2015). Choice-induced preference change and the free-choice paradigm: a clarification. Judgment and Decision Making, 10(1):34-49.

Abstract

Positive spreading of ratings or rankings in the classical free-choice paradigm is commonly taken to indicate choice-induced change in preferences and has motivated influential theories as cognitive dissonance theory and self-perception theory. Chen and Risen [2010] argued by means of a mathematical proof that positive spreading is merely a statistical consequence of a flawed design. However, positive spreading has also been observed in blind choice and other designs where the alleged flaw should be absent. We show that the result in Chen and Risen [2010] is mathematically incorrect, although it can be recovered in a particular case. Specifically, we present a formal model of decision making that satisfies all assumptions in that article but implies that spreading need not be positive in the absence of choice-induced preference change. Hence, although the free-choice paradigm is flawed, the present research shows that reasonable models of human behavior need not predict consistent positive spreading. As a consequence, taken as a whole, previous experimental results remain informative.

Abstract

Positive spreading of ratings or rankings in the classical free-choice paradigm is commonly taken to indicate choice-induced change in preferences and has motivated influential theories as cognitive dissonance theory and self-perception theory. Chen and Risen [2010] argued by means of a mathematical proof that positive spreading is merely a statistical consequence of a flawed design. However, positive spreading has also been observed in blind choice and other designs where the alleged flaw should be absent. We show that the result in Chen and Risen [2010] is mathematically incorrect, although it can be recovered in a particular case. Specifically, we present a formal model of decision making that satisfies all assumptions in that article but implies that spreading need not be positive in the absence of choice-induced preference change. Hence, although the free-choice paradigm is flawed, the present research shows that reasonable models of human behavior need not predict consistent positive spreading. As a consequence, taken as a whole, previous experimental results remain informative.

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12 citations in Web of Science®
12 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > General Decision Sciences
Social Sciences & Humanities > Applied Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Economics and Econometrics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cognitive dissonance, decision making, free-choice paradigm, preferences
Scope:Discipline-based scholarship (basic research)
Language:English
Date:January 2015
Deposited On:16 Apr 2021 11:11
Last Modified:25 Apr 2024 01:35
Publisher:Society for Judgment and Decision Making
ISSN:1930-2975
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://journal.sjdm.org/12/12710/h2.html
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:22414
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)