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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2004 Sep;87(3):312-26.

The psychological pleasure and pain of choosing: when people prefer choosing at the cost of subsequent outcome satisfaction.

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Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.


This empirical investigation tested the hypothesis that the benefits of personal choosing are restricted to choices made from among attractive alternatives. Findings from vignette and laboratory studies show that contrary to people's self-predictions prior to actually choosing, choosers only proved more satisfied than nonchoosers when selecting from among more preferred alternatives. When selecting from among less preferred alternatives, nonchoosers proved more satisfied with the decision outcome than choosers. Subsequent analyses revealed that differences in outcome satisfaction between choosers and nonchoosers emerge even before the decision outcome is experienced and that interventions during the decision-making process can serve to attenuate these differences. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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