Do Choices Affect Preferences? Some Doubts and New Evidence

19 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2009

See all articles by Steinar Holden

Steinar Holden

University of Oslo - Department of Economics; Norges Bank; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: December 2009

Abstract

Recent research is exploring the case for choice-induced changes in preferences using the free-choice paradigm of Brehm (1956). Participants are faced with a choice between items that they have given the same rating of liking, two items at a time, and it is found that an item not chosen in one choice has a lower tendency of being chosen in a subsequent choice. This tendency is interpreted as evidence for choice-induced changes in preferences. I argue that this interpretation of the evidence is invalid. Furthermore, I report a novel experiment in which participants were specifically asked to compare the items, allowing for a consistent interpretation of the evidence. I find no evidence of choice-induced changes in preferences after a choice between items where one was viewed as more attractive than the other, but potentially some weak evidence of changes in preferences after a choice between items viewed as equally attractive.

Keywords: choice-induced changes in preferences, post-decision dissonance, cognitive dissonance, choice, carry-over effects

JEL Classification: D01

Suggested Citation

Holden, Steinar, Do Choices Affect Preferences? Some Doubts and New Evidence (December 2009). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2868, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1521411 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1521411

Steinar Holden (Contact Author)

University of Oslo - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 1095 Blindern
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HOME PAGE: http://folk.uio.no/~sholden/

Norges Bank ( email )

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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