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Past decisions do affect future choices: An experimental demonstration


  • Arad, Ayala


This paper demonstrates experimentally that the mere fact that an alternative was chosen in the past increases the likelihood that it will be re-chosen in the future, when new alternatives are being offered. The experimental design consists of a new variation of the free-choice paradigm that is immune to Chen and Risen’s (2010) criticism of how results have been interpreted in previous studies of post-decision effects. An additional experiment indicates that once participants have chosen a particular alternative they view its characteristics more positively. I suggest that the new design can be used to study various aspects of the effect of past decisions on future ones. In the present paper, I apply it to show that the allocation of limited resources among various uses may be biased in favor of a particular use if it was preferred to another in a previous situation.

Suggested Citation

  • Arad, Ayala, 2013. "Past decisions do affect future choices: An experimental demonstration," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 121(2), pages 267-277.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:121:y:2013:i:2:p:267-277
    DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2013.01.006

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. M. Keith Chen, 2008. "Rationalization and Cognitive Dissonance: Do Choices Affect or Reflect Preferences?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002336, David K. Levine.
    2. Knetsch, Jack L, 1989. "The Endowment Effect and Evidence of Nonreversible Indifference Curves," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1277-1284, December.
    3. Russo, J. Edward & Medvec, Victoria Husted & Meloy, Margaret G., 1996. "The Distortion of Information during Decisions," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 102-110, April.
    4. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
    5. Keith M. Marzilli Ericson & Andreas Fuster, 2011. "Expectations as Endowments: Evidence on Reference-Dependent Preferences from Exchange and Valuation Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1879-1907.
    6. Ritov, Ilana & Baron, Jonathan, 1992. "Status-Quo and Omission Biases," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 49-61, February.
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