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Tragic Choices: Autonomy and Emotional Responses to Medical Decisions

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  • Simona Botti
  • Kristina Orfali
  • Sheena S. Iyengar
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    Abstract

    We investigate how making highly consequential, highly undesirable decisions affects emotions and preference for autonomy. We examine individuals facing real or hypothetical decisions to discontinue their infants’ life support who either choose personally or have physicians choose for them. Findings from a multidisciplinary approach consisting of a qualitative analysis of in‐depth interviews and three laboratory studies reveal that perceived personal causality for making tragic decisions generates more negative feelings than having the same choices externally made. Tragic decisions also undermine coping abilities, weakening the desire for autonomy. Consequently, participants disliked making decisions but also resented relinquishing their option to choose.

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    File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/598969
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    File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/598969
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 337 - 352

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:doi:10.1086/598969

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JCR/

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    Cited by:
    1. Arne Roets & Barry Schwartz & Yanjun Guan, 2012. "The tyranny of choice: a cross-cultural investigation of maximizing-satisfising effects on well-being," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(6), pages 689-704, November.
    2. Hsee, Christopher K. & Shen, Luxi & Zhang, Shirley & Chen, Jingqiu & Zhang, Li, 2012. "Fate or fight: Exploring the hedonic costs of competition," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 119(2), pages 177-186.
    3. Camacho, N.M.A. & de Jong, M.G. & Stremersch, S., 2014. "The Effect of Customer Empowerment on Adherence to Expert Advice," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2014-005-MKT, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus Uni.
    4. Amos Schurr & Yaakov Kareev & Judith Avrahami & Ilana Ritov, 2012. "Taking the Broad Perspective: Risky Choices in Repeated Proficiency Tasks," Discussion Paper Series dp621, The Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
    5. Lee, Li Way, 2011. "Behavioral bioethics: Notes of a behavioral economist," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 368-372, August.

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