Taking the Broad Perspective: Risky Choices in Repeated Proficiency Tasks
In performing skill-based tasks individuals often face a choice between easier, less demanding alternatives, but ones whose expected payoffs in case of success are lower, and difficult, more demanding alternatives whose expected payoffs in case of success are higher: What piece to play in a musical competition, whether to operate a camera in a manual or automatic mode, etc. We maintain that the decision-maker’s perspective – whether narrow or broad – is one determinant of choice, and subsequent satisfaction, in such tasks. In two experiments involving dart throwing and answering general-knowledge trivia questions, perspective was manipulated through choice procedure: A sequential choice procedure, with task difficulty chosen one at a time, was used to induce a narrow perspective while an aggregate-choice procedure was used to induce a broad perspective. In two additional experiments, both involving a sequential-choice procedure perspective was manipulated through priming. As predicted, in all experiments inducement of a narrow perspective resulted in a higher probability of choosing the more difficult task; it also led to lower-than-anticipated overall satisfaction.
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