Sheena Iyengar

Positive Illusions of Preference Consistency: When Remaining Eluded by One's Preferences Yields Greater Subjective Well-Being and Decision Outcomes

Coauthor(s): Rachael E. Wells.

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Abstract:
Psychological research has repeatedly demonstrated two seemingly irreconcilable human tendencies. People are motivated towards internal consistency, or acting in accordance with stable, self-generated preferences. Simultaneously though, people demonstrate considerable variation in the content of their preferences, often induced by subtle external influences. The current studies test the hypothesis that decision makers resolve this tension by sustaining illusions of preference consistency, which, in turn, confer psychological benefits. Two year-long longitudinal studies were conducted with graduating students seeking full-time employment. Results show that job seekers perceived themselves to have manifested greater preference consistency than actually exhibited in expressed preferences. Additionally, those harboring illusions of preference consistency experienced less negative affect throughout the decision process, greater outcome satisfaction, and subsequently, received more job offers.

Source: Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Exact Citation:
Wells, Rachael E., and Sheena Iyengar. "Positive Illusions of Preference Consistency: When Remaining Eluded by One's Preferences Yields Greater Subjective Well-Being and Decision Outcomes." Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 98, no. 1: 66-87.
Volume: 98
Number: 1
Pages: 66-87
Date: 2005