The price of a piece of cheese: value from fit between epistemic needs and a learning versus an outcome focus
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
In decision making, people can focus on decisional outcomes (outcome focus), but they can also focus on gaining knowledge
about the decisional domain (learning focus). Furthermore, people differ in the strength of their epistemic needs—their preference
for developing a rich and accurate understanding of the world. We invoke the regulatory fit theory to predict that higher
epistemic needs better fit a learning focus than lower epistemic needs, resulting in a greater increase in valuation of the
chosen option when a learning rather than an outcome focus is induced. This general hypothesis was tested and supported in
three studies, each focusing on a different proxy to epistemic needs. Thus, individuals experienced greater value when they
had lower expertise (Study 1), higher need for assessment (Study 2), and higher need for cognition (Study 3) when a learning
rather than an outcome focus was induced. Implications for work on epistemic needs, regulatory fit theory, and decision-making
practice are discussed.
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