Values and Preferences: Defining Preference Construction

Mays Business School Research Paper No. 2015-8

Cognitive Science, Volume 2, Issue 2, pages 193-205, March/April 2011

14 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2015

See all articles by Caleb Warren

Caleb Warren

University of Arizona

A. Peter McGraw

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Marketing

Leaf Van Boven

University of Colorado Boulder

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Extensive research in the values and preferences literature suggests that preferences are sensitive to context and calculated at the time of choice. This has led to the view that preferences are constructed. Recent work calls for a better understanding of when preferences are constructed and when they are not. We contend that the answer to this question depends on the meaning of the term constructed. Constructed can mean that a preference changes across contexts. If construction is synonymous with context sensitivity, we contend that preferences are always constructed because context influences nearly every aspect of the judgment and choice process. As a motivating example, we show that preferences are influenced by goals and goals are highly context sensitive. Constructed, however, can mean instead that a preference is calculated or formulated during the judgment and choice process. If construction is synonymous with calculation, we contend that many preferences are calculated and the more important question is to what degree preferences are calculated. We review the literature that shows that the degree to which decision makers calculate preferences is influenced by goals, cognitive constraints, and experience.

Suggested Citation

Warren, Caleb and McGraw, A. Peter and Van Boven, Leaf, Values and Preferences: Defining Preference Construction (2011). Mays Business School Research Paper No. 2015-8, Cognitive Science, Volume 2, Issue 2, pages 193-205, March/April 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2558056

Caleb Warren (Contact Author)

University of Arizona ( email )

McClelland Hall
P.O. Box 210108
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States

A. Peter McGraw

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Marketing ( email )

United States

Leaf Van Boven

University of Colorado Boulder ( email )

University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, 345 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303.735.5238 (Phone)
303.492.2967 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://psych.colorado.edu/~vanboven/

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