Distinction Bias: Misprediction and Mischoice Due to Joint Evaluation

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 86, No. 5, 2004

16 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2006  

Christopher K. Hsee

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Jiao Zhang

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Abstract

This research identifies a new source of failure to make accurate affective predictions or to make experientially optimal choices. When people make predictions or choices, they are often in the joint evaluation (JE) mode; when people actually experience an event, they are often in the single evaluation (SE) mode. The "utility function" of an attribute can vary systematically between SE and JE. When people in JE make predictions or choices for events to be experienced in SE, they often resort to their JE preferences rather than their SE preferences and overpredict the difference that different values of an attribute (e.g., different salaries) will make to their happiness in SE. This overprediction is referred to as the distinction bias. The present research also specifies when the distinction bias occurs and when it does not. This research contributes to literatures on experienced utility, affective forecasting, and happiness.

Keywords: evaluability, joint evaluation, separate evaluation, affective-forecasting, experienced utility

JEL Classification: D81, D11, D12, D91

Suggested Citation

Hsee, Christopher K. and Zhang, Jiao, Distinction Bias: Misprediction and Mischoice Due to Joint Evaluation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 86, No. 5, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=929932

Christopher K. Hsee (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Jiao Zhang

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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