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Do Choices Affect Preferences? Some Doubts and New Evidence

Steinar Holden ()

No 2868, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo Group Munich

Abstract: Recent research is exploring the case for choice-induced changes in preferences using the free-choice paradigm of Brehm (1956). Participants are faced with a choice between items that they have given the same rating of liking, two items at a time, and it is found that an item not chosen in one choice has a lower tendency of being chosen in a subsequent choice. This tendency is interpreted as evidence for choice-induced changes in preferences. I argue that this interpretation of the evidence is invalid. Furthermore, I report a novel experiment in which participants were specifically asked to compare the items, allowing for a consistent interpretation of the evidence. I find no evidence of choice-induced changes in preferences after a choice between items where one was viewed as more attractive than the other, but potentially some weak evidence of changes in preferences after a choice between items viewed as equally attractive.

Keywords: choice-induced changes in preferences; post-decision dissonance; cognitive dissonance; choice; carry-over effects (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D01 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009
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