Path Dependent Preferences: The Role of Initial Experience and Biased Search in Preference Discovery

Posted: 4 Aug 2011

See all articles by Steve Hoeffler

Steve Hoeffler

Vanderbilt University - Marketing

Patricia M. West

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Marketing and Logistics

Dan Ariely

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Date Written: November 1, 2006

Abstract

What is the role of early experiences in shaping preferences? What are the mechanisms by which such early encounters influence the way preferences are formed? In this research, we examine the impact of the entry position and favorability of initial (and ongoing) experiences on preference development. We predict that the starting point will heavily influence which particular region people select from initially, and favorableness of early experiences and myopic search will both limit their search to that particular region. Across four studies, we find that when the initial experiences are favorable, subjects engage in lower levels of search, experience only a narrow breadth of possible alternatives, demonstrate less ongoing experimentation, and have a reduction in the amount of preference development.

Keywords: Preference learning, Anchoring

Suggested Citation

Hoeffler, Steve and West, Patricia M. and Ariely, Dan, Path Dependent Preferences: The Role of Initial Experience and Biased Search in Preference Discovery (November 1, 2006). Elsevier, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 101, No. 2, pp. 215-229, November 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1904599

Steve Hoeffler (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Marketing ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Patricia M. West

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Marketing and Logistics ( email )

Fisher Hall 524
2100 Neil Ave
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Dan Ariely

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
(919) 381-4366 (Phone)

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