Seeking and Avoiding Choice Closure to Enhance Outcome Satisfaction
54 Pages Posted: 1 May 2018 Last revised: 30 May 2018
Date Written: April 12, 2018
Consumers gain choice closure when they perceive a sense of finality over a past decision and limit comparisons between the selected and the forgone options. We investigate consumers’ ability to make strategic use of choice closure to enhance outcome satisfaction. Seven studies show that consumers experience greater satisfaction when they achieve choice closure with an inferior outcome and when they do not achieve choice closure with a superior outcome; however, they expect to be more satisfied by avoiding choice closure with an inferior outcome and by seeking it with a superior outcome. We provide a rationale for this experience–expectation contrast based on rule overgeneralization. Consumers form their expectation on an implicit rule learned and internalized in a context in which it is appropriate and advantageous: when they aim to increase satisfaction with a future choice; however, consumers erroneously apply the same implicit rule to a different context, one in which they aim to increase satisfaction with a past choice. We conclude that consumers are unlikely to be able to make strategic use of choice closure to enhance satisfaction with the outcome of a decision they have made.
Keywords: choice closure, outcome valence, satisfaction, prediction error, rule overgeneralization
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