Tag Archives: decision satisfaction

Reframing Non-Comparable Choices to Make Them Simpler, More Satisfying

Life’s most baffling decisions are among non-comparable choices: “apples-to-oranges” comparisons.

Eunice Kim

Eunice Kim

University of Toronto’s Eunice Kim Cho collaborated with Uzma Khan of Stanford and Yale’s Ravi Dhar to investigate whether non-comparable choices may be made easier and more satisfying by changing their “level of representation,” or decision context.

Uzma Khan

Uzma Khan

Cho and team drew on Construal Level Theory (CLT) discussed by NYU’s Yaacov Trope, Nira Liberman of Tel Aviv University and Cheryl Wakslak, now of USC, to differentiate decisions construed as concrete, specific, contextualized, and personal from more abstract, distant options based on future time, remote space, social distance, and hypothetical probability.

Ravi Dhar

Ravi Dhar

Trope and team reported that these differing construals can determine people’s predictions, decisions, and behavior.

Yaacov Trope

Yaacov Trope

Kim’s team offered volunteers a gift card and asked half of the participants to choose between comparable choices (different types of chess sets or different types of consumer electronics).

Nira Liberman

Nira Liberman

The remaining subjects chose between non-comparable options (chess set vs. cheese sampler or consumer electronic device vs. event tickets), and all  participants chose between these options for themselves (specific context) or for an acquaintance (abstract context).

Cheryl Wakslak

Cheryl Wakslak

When people chose for themselves, at the more personal, specific construal level, they found it easier to select between more similar choices, the two chess sets, but not the dissimilar choice of chess set vs. cheese platter.

In contrast, when participants chose a gift for a more socially-distant person, an acquaintance, they found it easier to select between dissimilar items.
Kim and team concluded that it’s easier to make dissimilar choices when the options are represented at a higher level of abstraction to enable “big picture thinking.”

Marketers use this principle to position dissimilar choices more abstractly, like “level of enjoyment” rather than focusing on specific specific product features, to help consumers make decisions more quickly.

Decision-making ease is crucial because it is associated with greater satisfaction with the decision.
When taking a decision is complex and stressful, many people doubt the decision and feel less content.

Jens Forster

Jens Forster

Liberman and Jens Forster, now of University of Amsterdam, demonstrated that complex, non-comparable, or confusing choices are associated with lower decision satisfaction and greater likelihood of choosing the previously rejected option in a subsequent decision.

Individuals can consider more abstract, “big-picture” criteria when deciding between differing options, such as equal expenditures on a a material possession or an experience, to increase ease and speed of decision-making.

The next post considers which type of purchase – material or experiential – most people find more satisfying.

-*How do you make decisions when the choices are not directly comparable?

Please follow-share-like www.kathrynwelds.com and @kathrynwelds

RELATED POSTS:

Twitter:  @kathrynwelds
Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary
Google+
LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
Facebook Notes:

©Kathryn Welds

Advertisements

Buying Happiness: Satisfaction and Material Purchases vs. Experiential “Investments”

-*Does acquiring possessions lead to happiness and satisfaction?

Leaf Van Boven

Leaf Van Boven

“Not so much,” according to University of Colorado’s Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich of Cornell, who reported that material purchases are less satisfying than experiential purchases.

Thomas Gilovich

Thomas Gilovich

They suggest that experiences make people happier because experiences are:

  • Subject to positive reinterpretation
  • Central to one’s identity
  • More positively valued by others as having “social value.”
Travis Carter

Travis Carter

Gilovich collaborated with Travis Carter of University of Chicago to survey diverse respondents from various demographic groups.
These two cross-sections of the public reported that purchases to acquire a life experience made them happier than “hedonic” or “utilitarian” material purchases.

In Gilovich and Carter’s related lab experiment, volunteers said they had more positive feelings after recalling an experiential purchase than after thinking about a material purchase.

Eunice Kim

Eunice Kim

Participants also expected that experiences would make them happier than material possessions when they adopted a future, “big picture” perspective in contrast to a present-oriented view.
This finding echoes Eunice Kim Cho and team’s decision-making conclusions highlighted in the last blog postReframing Non-Comparable Choices to Make Them Simpler, More Satisfying

Volunteers reported that material purchases are less satisfying because they can lead to focusing on unchosen options, and comparing to other people’s choices, which contributes to doubt and rumination about alternate choices.

Russell Belk

Russell Belk

In addition, most people “maximize” when they make material purchases in an exhaustive, time-consuming process of considering all possible options, then selecting the optimal-seeming alternative.

Marsha Richins

Marsha Richins

In contrast, most people “satisfice” when selecting experiences by setting a minimum standard for decision quality, then selecting the first option.
This more rapid approach typically leads to less regret.

Scott Dawson

Scott Dawson

People who strongly agree with statements like “Some of the most important achievements in life include acquiring material possessions” and “Buying things gives me a lot of pleasure” report lower levels of life satisfaction according to York University’s Russell Belk as well as to University of Missouri’s Marsha Richins and Scott Dawson of Portland State University, in separate studies.

Many people intuitively sense that possessions don’t buy happiness, and these studies confirm that life experiences tend to be more satisfying than material objects.

-*How do you choose among “utilitarian” items, experiences, and “hedonic” possessions when making purchases?

Please follow-share-like www.kathrynwelds.com and @kathrynwelds

RELATED POSTS:

Twitter:  @kathrynwelds
Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary
Google+ google.com/+KathrynWelds
LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
Facebook Notes:

©Kathryn Welds