The Illusion of Design: Framing Decisions As a Creative Process Increases Perceived Customization
26 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2017 Last revised: 17 Sep 2019
Date Written: December 22, 2017
As technology and big data join forces, consumers are increasingly able to receive customized options. However, despite the abundance of available choice options, people may not necessarily view their choice options as customized to their wants and needs. Across five studies, we provide evidence for a possible psychological solution: Framing choices as a creative process increases a chosen option’s perceived customization, a phenomenon we refer to as the illusion of design. Specifically, even when keeping the choice set constant, choosing by (creative) attributes rather than choosing from all available options produces the illusion of design. Moreover, first providing a blank template further increases perceived customization of the chosen option. The illusion of design arises in part because people feel a greater sense of co-creation when choosing via a seemingly creative process, thereby heightening their perceived customization of the chosen option. Consequently, the illusion of design extends to choices that express preferences (e.g., liking blue over red) and is significantly diminished with choices that describe objective needs (e.g., needing a small versus large T-shirt). Finally, we find that the heightened perceived customization from the illusion of design ultimately results in greater willingness-to-pay for the chosen option.
Keywords: judgment, decision making, consumer behavior, creative choices, framing effects, customization
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