Is the Preference for Certainty Always So Certain?
75 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2011 Last revised: 19 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 19, 2017
Academic research in several disciplines has demonstrated that consumers generally show a preference for certainty in the domain of gains. The current research provides evidence for an important psychological antecedent to this effect. Specifically, the authors find that the likelihood of choosing a certain reward over a risky or uncertain reward with a greater expected value is affected by whether consumers attend to the gist of the choice options or their associated details. Five experiments reveal that shifting attention to the gist of the choice options accentuates the preference for certainty, and conversely shifting attention to the details of the choice options attenuates it. The authors provide convergent evidence for this using a variety of different means to manipulate consumers’ attention and offer novel insights into when consumers are more (vs. less) likely to show a preference for certainty and an aversion to risk and uncertainty in common, retail settings.
Keywords: uncertainty, risk, the preference for certainty, processing style
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