- Reversible decisions: The grass isn't merely greener on the other side; it's also very brown over here
- Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
- Volume | Issue number
- 49 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
People generally say they prefer to have the opportunity to revise decisions at a later point in time. Research has shown, however, that reversible decision-making leads to lower as opposed to higher levels of post-choice satisfaction (Gilbert & Ebert, 2002). In three studies we aimed to gain insight into the underlying processes driving this counterintuitive finding. Our results show that irreversible decision-making increases the accessibility of the positive aspects of the chosen and the negative aspects of the rejected alternatives. Hence, in line with what would be expected on the basis of cognitive dissonance theory, irreversible decision-making results in a focus on aspects of the decision that optimize choice satisfaction. After reversible decision-making, however, the negative aspects of the chosen and the positive aspects of the rejected alternatives tend to become relatively more accessible. Apparently, reversible decisions automatically direct people's attention to those aspects of the decision that potentially decrease satisfaction with the chosen alternative.
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