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J Gen Psychol. 2000 Apr;127(2):157-64.

Centrality preferences in choices among similar options.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, California State University, Northridge 91330-8255, USA. jerry.shaw@csun.edu

Abstract

Three explanations were explored for the finding that people prefer the middle option rather than the extremes when choosing from an array of similar options. In Study 1, 68% chose the middle item from a set of three highlighters and three surveys, whereas 32% chose an item from either end, p < .0001. In Study 2, 71% selected the middle chair from a row of three chairs that were either all empty, or had a backpack occupying either one of the two end chairs, p < .0001. These results support a minimal mental effort principle rather than a preference for symmetry rule. In Study 3, 54.2% recalled more graphic items from the center poster of a 3-poster collage, whereas 31.3% and 14.5% recalled more items from the left and right posters, respectively, p < .004. These findings lend additional support to a focus of attention explanation.

PMID:
10843258
DOI:
10.1080/00221300009598575
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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