Thursday, August 15, 2019

After having used a catalyst (flipping a coin) to make a decision, we experience a stronger feeling of suddenly knowing what we want, even when discarding the suggestion of the decision aid

Jaffé ME, Reutner L, Greifeneder R (2019) Catalyzing decisions: How a coin flip strengthens affective reactions. PLoS One 14(8): e0220736, August 14, 2019.

Abstract: When individuals are undecided between options, they may flip a coin or use other aids that produce random outcomes to support decision-making. Such aids lead to clear suggestions, which, interestingly, individuals do not necessarily follow. Instead when looking at the outcome, individuals sometimes appear to like or dislike the suggestion, and then decide according to this feeling. In this manuscript we argue that such a decision aid can function as a catalyst. As it points to one option over the other, individuals focus on obtaining this option and engage in a more vivid representation of the same. By imagining obtaining the option, feelings related to the option become stronger, which then drive feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the outcome of the decision aid. We provide support for this phenomenon throughout two studies. Study 1 indicates that using a catalyst leads to stronger feelings. Study 2 replicates this finding using a different catalyst, and rules out alternative explanations. Here, participants report that after having used a catalyst, they experienced a stronger feeling of suddenly knowing what they want compared to the control group that did not use a catalyst. Implications of these results for research and practice are discussed.

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