The Conflicting Choices of Alternating Selves

59 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2009

See all articles by Robyn A. LeBoeuf

Robyn A. LeBoeuf

Washington University in St. Louis

Eldar Shafir

Princeton University

Julia Belyavsky Bayuk

University of Delaware - Marketing

Date Written: August 19, 2009


Participants made choices after the salience of their social identities was manipulated. Choices assimilated to the salient identity, whether that identity stemmed from a person’s role (e.g., student, family member) or culture (e.g., Chinese, American). Thus, the preferences that participants expressed depended on the identity that happened to be salient at the moment of choice, with participants expressing preferences when one identity was salient that conflicted with the preferences they would express were another identity salient. These effects only arose for those who held and identified with the evoked identity. Studies further revealed that such identity-congruent choices influence post-choice satisfaction and regret: Participants were less satisfied with their prior choices when the identity salient during post-choice evaluation or consumption was different from the identity salient during choice, compared to when the “choosing” and “consuming” identities were the same. Implications of the findings are discussed.

Keywords: choice, preference reversals, behavioral decision theory, post-choice satisfaction, identity salience, priming

Suggested Citation

LeBoeuf, Robyn A. and Shafir, Eldar and Bayuk, Julia Belyavsky, The Conflicting Choices of Alternating Selves (August 19, 2009). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Robyn A. LeBoeuf (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Eldar Shafir

Princeton University ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

Julia Belyavsky Bayuk

University of Delaware - Marketing ( email )

Newark, DE
United States

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