Pressure and Perverse Flights to Familiarity

Stanford Graduate School of Business Research Paper Series No. 2073

23 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2010

See all articles by Baba Shiv

Baba Shiv

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Taly Reich

Stanford University

Senia Maymin

Stanford University

Ab Litt

Stanford University

Date Written: November 30, 2010

Abstract

Under pressure, people often prefer what is familiar, which can seem safer. We show that such familiarity-favoring can lead to choices precisely contrary to the source of felt pressure, thus exacerbating, rather than mitigating, its negative consequences. In Experiment 1, time-pressure increased choices to complete a longer but incidentally familiar task-option, resulting in increased felt stress during task-completion. In Experiment 2, pressure to reach a performance benchmark in a chosen puzzle increased participants‟ choices of an incidentally familiar puzzle that both augured and delivered objectively worse performance (i.e., fewer points obtained). This occurred even when familiarity was established through unpleasant prior experience – akin to a “devil you know” preference under pressure, whereas such negatively familiar options were disfavored in pressure-free situations. These results demonstrate how pressure-induced flights to familiarity can sometimes aggravate rather than ameliorate pressure, and can occur even when available evidence points to the sub-optimality of familiar options.

Suggested Citation

Shiv, Baba and Reich, Taly and Maymin, Senia and Litt, Ab, Pressure and Perverse Flights to Familiarity (November 30, 2010). Stanford Graduate School of Business Research Paper Series No. 2073. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1721813 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1721813

Baba Shiv (Contact Author)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States
650-725-8122 (Phone)

Taly Reich

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Senia Maymin

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Ab Litt

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
51
Abstract Views
693
rank
388,119
PlumX Metrics