- Having second thoughts: Consequences of decision reversibility
- Award date
- 4 December 2013
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Many of the decisions we make are irreversible. From everyday choices such as deciding whether or not to put sugar in our coffee to more consequential dilemmas such as deciding whether or not to abort one's unborn child. Other decisions leave more room for second-guessing our initial preferences. These reversible decisions provide us with the opportunity to change our minds at a later point in time. People generally prefer reversible to irreversible decisions. We, for instance, tend to provide temporary (rather than permanent) contracts to new employees, live together with our romantic partners for a while before getting married, and buy products at full price that we can return to the store rather than products that are on sale but cannot be returned.
While individuals seem to prefer reversible decisions over irreversible ones, previous research shows that the opportunity to revise actually leads to lower levels of post-choice satisfaction. This is especially interesting in light of the fact that people often do not revise their initial choice. Hence, we do not seem very good at predicting our reactions subsequent to reversible decisions. Up until now, very few studies investigated the consequences of reversible versus irreversible decision-making, and many questions concerning the topic are yet unanswered. It is, for instance, unclear why people are less satisfied with reversible decisions. This dissertation aimed to fill this void in the literature by investigating more extensively the cognitive (chapters 2 and 3), motivational (chapter 4) and behavioral (chapter 5) processes that are affected by the reversibility versus irreversibility of decisions.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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