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Inherent Rule Variability in Consumer Choice: Changing Rules for Change's Sake


  • Drolet, Aimee


The present research demonstrates that consumers tend to vary their use of decision rules independent of option and set characteristics. In five experiments, increased choice of a particular option (e.g., lower price, brand name, or compromise option) was associated with relatively decreased choice of that same (generic) option on occasions that followed. Results indicate that this inherent rule variability is not an effect of background contrast but instead relates to consumers' favorable valuation of decision change itself. This research implies that the idea of contingent decision making applies not only to decision outcomes but also to decision processes. Copyright 2002 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Drolet, Aimee, 2002. "Inherent Rule Variability in Consumer Choice: Changing Rules for Change's Sake," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(3), pages 293-305, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jconrs:v:29:y:2002:i:3:p:293-305
    DOI: 10.1086/344433

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    Cited by:

    1. Min, Dong-Jun & Cunha, Marcus, 2019. "The influence of horizontal and vertical product attribute information on decision making under risk: The role of perceived competence," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 174-183.
    2. Pechtl, Hans, 2011. "Die Präferenzwirkung nicht-verfügbarer Alternativen: Der Phantomeffekt," Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Diskussionspapiere 01/2011, University of Greifswald, Faculty of Law and Economics.
    3. Gentina, Elodie & Shrum, L.J. & Lowrey, Tina M., 2016. "Teen attitudes toward luxury fashion brands from a social identity perspective: A cross-cultural study of French and U.S. teenagers," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(12), pages 5785-5792.
    4. Simonson, Itamar, 2003. "Determinants of Customers' Responses to Customized Offers: Conceptual Framework and Research Propositions," Research Papers 1794, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    5. Byun, Kyung-Ah (Kay) & Jones, Robert Paul & Wooldridge, Barbara Ross, 2018. "It is not always about brand: Design-driven consumers and their self-expression," Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 296-303.
    6. Mantrala, Murali K. & Levy, Michael & Kahn, Barbara E. & Fox, Edward J. & Gaidarev, Peter & Dankworth, Bill & Shah, Denish, 2009. "Why is Assortment Planning so Difficult for Retailers? A Framework and Research Agenda," Journal of Retailing, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 71-83.
    7. Müller, Holger & Benjamin Kroll, Eike & Vogt, Bodo, 2010. "“Fact or artifact? Empirical evidence on the robustness of compromise effects in binding and non-binding choice contextsâ€," Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 441-448.
    8. Fernandes, Daniel, 2013. "The 1/N Rule revisited: Heterogeneity in the naïve diversification bias," International Journal of Research in Marketing, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 310-313.
    9. Katherine Burson & David Faro & Yuval Rottenstreich, 2013. "Multiple-Unit Holdings Yield Attenuated Endowment Effects," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(3), pages 545-555, November.
    10. Marcel Lichters & Marko Sarstedt & Bodo Vogt, 2015. "On the practical relevance of the attraction effect: A cautionary note and guidelines for context effect experiments," AMS Review, Springer;Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, June.
    11. Kim, Jungkeun & Spence, Mark T. & Marshall, Roger, 2018. "The Color of Choice: The Influence of Presenting Product Information in Color on the Compromise Effect," Journal of Retailing, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 167-185.
    12. Lichters, Marcel & Müller, Holger & Sarstedt, Marko & Vogt, Bodo, 2016. "How durable are compromise effects?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(10), pages 4056-4064.
    13. Hristina Nikolova & Cait Lamberton, 2016. "Men and the Middle: Gender Differences in Dyadic Compromise Effects," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(3), pages 355-371.
    14. Heffron, Raphael J., 2013. "The application of contrast explanation to energy policy research: UK nuclear energy policy 2002–2012," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 602-616.
    15. Martijn G. de Jong & Donald R. Lehmann & Oded Netzer, 2012. "State-Dependence Effects in Surveys," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(5), pages 838-854, September.

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