Constructing Stable Preferences: A Look into Dimensions of Experience and Their Impact on Preference Stability

Journal of Consumer Psychology, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 113-139, 1999

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 Last revised: 20 Nov 2012

See all articles by Steve Hoeffler

Steve Hoeffler

Vanderbilt University - Marketing

Dan Ariely

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Date Written: 1999

Abstract

There are 2 polar schools of thought regarding the existence of preferences. The economics tradition is based on the assumption of existing preferences. The emerging constructive processing approach assumes preferences are constructed based on the task and context factors present during choice or preference elicitation. Most researchers believe in a middle ground in which consumers construct their preferences when they are new to a category and eventually develop more stable preferences with experience in a domain. This research was designed to bridge the gap between these 2 schools of thought by understanding the process by which preferences are learned and developed over time. Specifically, we investigated the impact of several dimensions of experience (effort, choice, and experience) on preference stability. Results revealed that the type of experience and its corresponding effort had a large impact on the process of preference development. Study 1 demonstrated that by exposing participants to the trade-offs in their environment, their preferences developed and stabilized most rapidly. In addition, the act of making a choice (Study 2) and repeated choices (Study 3) both led to increased preference stability as indicated by measures of objective and subjective preference stability.

Keywords: consumer behavior, consumers' preferences, economics, conjoint analysis (marketing), economic trends, brand choice, research, decision making, consumer research college students-psychology, education, experience

Suggested Citation

Hoeffler, Steve and Ariely, Dan, Constructing Stable Preferences: A Look into Dimensions of Experience and Their Impact on Preference Stability (1999). Journal of Consumer Psychology, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 113-139, 1999 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1910884

Steve Hoeffler (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Marketing ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
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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