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Self-Knowledge in Consumer Decision Making


The purpose of the proposed project is to use a phenomenon called choice blindness to study self-knowledge and preference formation in the domain of consumer choice and economic decision making. Choice blindness refers to the experimental finding that people sometimes fail to notice mismatches between their intended choice and the outcome they are presented with, while nevertheless offering introspectively derived reasons for why they chose this alternative rather than the other. The effect has previously been used to study introspection and self-knowledge in pair-wise decision tasks for faces (Johansson et al., 2005, 2006). These studies showed both that there were very few differences between verbal reports given in manipulated and non-manipulated trials, and that people in the experiments often confabulate reasons for their choices by refereeing to unique properties of the originally non-preferred face as being the properties that made the prefer this alternative. The failure to detect mismatches also influence subsequent behaviour, as the participants came to prefer the manipulated alternative in subsequent choices. In the proposed project we want to extend our initial findings and apply this research method to the domain of consumer choice. This is an important and interesting domain to study using choice blindness, as there is a long standing debate in the literature regarding what consumers know and what they just think they know about their own shopping behaviour. As a sub-field of consumer choice, we will also apply this method to economic decision making in the form of monetary gambles. In addition to analysing verbal reports, we will also study the dynamic effect choice blindness might have on the participants preferences, both for consumer goods and for risk strategies and preferences in monetary gambles. An integral component of this research is also the development of novel research methods, as the use of techniques borrowed from close-up card magic.

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UCL Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute for Women’s Health
Gower Street
WC1E 6BT London
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 183 618,80
Administrative Contact
Greta Borg-Carbott (Ms.)