Complicating Decisions: The Work Ethic Heuristic and the Construction of Effortful Decisions

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol. 145(7): 807-29, 2016

Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 16-79

71 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2016  

Rom Y. Schrift

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Ran Kivetz

Columbia Business School - Marketing

Oded Netzer

Columbia Business School - Marketing

Date Written: March 1, 2016

Abstract

The notion that effort and hard work yield desired outcomes is ingrained in many cultures and affects our thinking and behavior. However, could valuing effort complicate our lives? In the present article, the authors demonstrate that individuals with a stronger tendency to link effort with positive outcomes end up complicating what should be easy decisions. People distort their preferences and the information they search and recall in a manner that intensifies the choice conflict and decisional effort they experience prior to finalizing their choice. Six experiments identify the effort-outcome link as the underlying mechanism for such conflict-increasing behavior. Individuals with a stronger tendency to link effort with positive outcomes (e.g., individuals who subscribe to a Protestant Work Ethic) are shown to complicate decisions by: (i) distorting evaluations of alternatives (Study 1); (ii) distorting information recalled about the alternatives (Studies 2a & 2b); and (iii) distorting interpretations of information about the alternatives (Study 3). Further, individuals conduct a superfluous search for information and spend more time than needed on what should have been an easy decision (Studies 4a & 4b).

Suggested Citation

Schrift, Rom Y. and Kivetz, Ran and Netzer, Oded, Complicating Decisions: The Work Ethic Heuristic and the Construction of Effortful Decisions (March 1, 2016). Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol. 145(7): 807-29, 2016; Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 16-79. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2797342

Rom Y. Schrift (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States

Ran Kivetz

Columbia Business School - Marketing ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

Oded Netzer

Columbia Business School - Marketing ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
19
Abstract Views
47