The Illusion of Design: Framing Decisions As a Creative Process Increases Perceived Customization
30 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2017 Last revised: 23 Jun 2018
Date Written: December 22, 2017
Consumers enjoy customized products, but customization is not always feasible. Across seven studies, we provide evidence for the illusion of design: Framing a decision as a creative process (versus a simple choice) increases perceived customization of one’s resulting choice. In particular, framing a decision as: (a) a change from a blank template (blank slate effect), or (b) multiple choices by attribute (choice-by-attribute effect) gave rise to the illusion of design. By choosing via these processes, consumers felt as though they were accomplishing a creative task, thereby enhancing their perception of customization. Therefore, we find that the illusion of design only extends to choices which express one’s preferences (e.g., liking blue over red) rather than describe objective needs (e.g., needing a small T-shirt versus a large T-shirt). Furthermore, as a consequence of the heightened perceived customization, the illusion of design resulted in greater willingness-to-pay for the resulting choice option. Finally, we consider alternative explanations and discuss implications of our effect.
Keywords: judgment, decision making, consumer behavior, creative choices, framing effects, customization
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