You Must Have a Preference: The Impact of No Preference Communication on Joint Decision Making
59 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2020
Date Written: July 15, 2020
Despite its prevalence, prior work has yet to examine how communicating “no preference” can impact the joint decision process and its downstream consequences. The current research documents a discrepancy in how communication of no preference in joint decisions is perceived, and demonstrates its unexpected consumption and social costs. Across seven studies, we demonstrate that while consumers who express having no preference (‘communicators’) expect it to make the decision easier for the recipient, the latter (‘recipients’) find that this makes their decision more difficult. Communicating no preference creates this unexpected discrepancy because recipients suspect that the communicators are hiding their preferences, which ends up making the decision more difficult for the recipients than communicators anticipate. In two incentive compatible studies, we find that the increase in decision difficulty further decreases the recipients’ consumption utility and leads to reduced liking of the communicator.
Keywords: Joint Decision Making, No Preference, Decision Difficulty, Communication, Consumption Utility, Social Perception
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