The Locus of Choice: Personal Causality and Satisfaction with Hedonic and Utilitarian Decisions
Consumers may consume the same products or services with different goals, for example, for their own pleasure—a hedonic goal—or to achieve some higher level purpose—a utilitarian goal. This article investigates whether this difference in goals influences satisfaction with an outcome that was either self-chosen or externally determined. In four experiments we manipulate consumption goals, controlling for the outcomes, the option valence, and whether the externally made choice was determined by an expert or at random. Results show that the outcome of a self-made choice is more satisfying than the outcome of an externally made choice when the goal is hedonic but not when it is utilitarian. We hypothesize that this effect results from the greater perceived personal causality associated with terminally motivated activities, such as hedonic choices, relative to instrumentally motivated activities, such as utilitarian choices, and provide evidence that supports this explanation over alternative accounts.
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