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How Prevalent is Post-Decision Dissonance? Some Doubts and New Evidence

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Author Info

  • Holden, Steinar

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)

Abstract

Recent research is exploring the case for cognitive or post-decision dissonance using the free-choice paradigm of Brehm (1956). Participants are repeatedly 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 items not chosen in one choice has a lower tendency of being chosen in a subsequent choice against a different alternative item. This tendency is interpreted as evidence for cognitive or post-decision dissonance. 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 post-decision dissonance after a choice between items where one was viewed as more attractive than the other, but potentially some weak evidence of post-decision dissonance after a choice between items viewed as equally attractive.

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File URL: https://www.sv.uio.no/econ/english/research/unpublished-works/working-papers/pdf-files/2009/Memo-18-2009.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Oslo University, Department of Economics in its series Memorandum with number 18/2009.

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Length: 8 pages
Date of creation: 30 Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2009_018

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Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
Phone: 22 85 51 27
Fax: 22 85 50 35
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Web page: http://www.oekonomi.uio.no/indexe.html
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Keywords: post-decision dissonance; cognitive dissonance; preferences;

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