Affect as an Ordinal System of Utility Assessment

59 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2016 Last revised: 5 Mar 2018

See all articles by Michel Tuan Pham

Michel Tuan Pham

Columbia University - Columbia Business School; Columbia Business School - Marketing

Ali Faraji-Rad

Olivier Toubia

Columbia Business School - Marketing

Leonard Lee

Columbia Business School - Marketing

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

Is the perceived value of things an absolute measurable quantity, as in economists’ notion of ‘‘cardinal utility,” or a relative assessment of the various objects being evaluated, as in economists’ notion of ‘‘ordinal utility”? We believe that the answer depends in part upon which judgment system underlies the evaluation. Specifically, we advance the proposition that due to its distant evolutionary roots, the affective system of judgment is inherently more ordinal (less cardinal) than the cognitive system. That is, structurally, the affective system is designed to perform evaluations in a manner that is inherently more comparative than the cognitive system, focusing more on the relative ranking of various alternatives than their assessment in absolute terms. Results from six studies provide converging support for this general hypothesis and show how this novel proposition can explain classic judgment phenomena such as the greater scope-insensitivity and reference-dependence of affect-based judgments.

Suggested Citation

Pham, Michel Tuan and Faraji-Rad, Ali and Toubia, Olivier and Lee, Leonard, Affect as an Ordinal System of Utility Assessment (2015). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 131(Nov), 81-94, 2015, Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 16-8, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2715317

Michel Tuan Pham

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
515 Uris
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-3472 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.columbia.edu/~tdp4/

Columbia Business School - Marketing ( email )

3022 Broadway
515 Uris
New York, NY NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.columbia.edu/~tdp4/

Olivier Toubia

Columbia Business School - Marketing ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

Leonard Lee

Columbia Business School - Marketing ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States
212 854 2177 (Phone)
212 854 7647 (Fax)

No contact information is available for Ali Faraji-Rad

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