Will I Like a 'Medium' Pillow? Another Look at Constructed and Inherent Preferences

43 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2007

See all articles by Itamar Simonson

Itamar Simonson

Stanford University; Stanford Graduate School of Business


There is a growing consensus that preferences are inherently constructive and largely determined by the task characteristics, the choice context, and the description of options. Although the fact that construction influences often play an important role is not in dispute, I argue that much of the evidence for preference construction reflects people's difficulty in evaluating absolute attribute values and tradeoffs and their tendency to gravitate to available relative evaluations. Furthermore, although some key demonstrations of constructive preferences involved rather unusual tasks and might have "benefited" from the effects they were demonstrating, the findings have led to rather sweeping, unqualified conclusions. The notion of more stable inherent preferences that are not determined by context is then highlighted, suggesting that it is often meaningful and useful to assume that people are non/receptive to certain aspects and object configurations, including those that may not yet exist. Inherent preferences are most influential when reference points and forces of construction are less salient, most notably, when objects are experienced. The final section explores some of the implications of constructed and inherent preferences with respect to decision and marketing research.

Suggested Citation

Simonson, Itamar, Will I Like a 'Medium' Pillow? Another Look at Constructed and Inherent Preferences. Journal of Consumer Psychology, Forthcoming, Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 1977 (R), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1026358

Itamar Simonson (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Center
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

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