Goal Reversion in Consumer Choice
How do consumers manage goal conflicts before making a choice? This question was studied by examining emerging preferences in choices involving two products that were means to conflicting goals. These preference patterns revealed that an initially active goal, which had been set aside to reconcile a goal conflict, exerted greater than expected influence on the remainder of the choice process. This influence was manifest in a tendency for consumers to revert to the product aligned with the initially active goal upon seeing information that objectively favored neither product. The prevalence of the reversion (i.e., flip-flop) preference pattern suggests that activation of a set-aside goal escalates when it is set aside, much as if its pursuit had been impeded by an external force. In addition to revealing goal reversion in a variety of choice contexts, the studies in this article also find that goal reversion is moderated by goal conflict.
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