Michel Tuan Pham
Affect as a Decision Making System of the Present
Coauthor(s): Hannah Chang.
The purpose of this research is to highlight and substantiate
an important characteristic of the affective system of judgment and decision making. We argue that the affective system is
inherently anchored in the present. We first review a variety of empirical findings that are consistent with this general thesis. We then offer a novel proposition that derives from the
general thesis that affect is a decision system of
the present. Specifically, we propose that affective feelings are relied upon more (weighted more heavily) in decisions whose outcomes are closer to the present than in decisions whose outcomes are more distant in time, whether future
or past. Consistent with this proposition, results from
five experiments involving a variety of
decision domains and tasks show that outcome proximity to the present (a) amplifies the relative
preference for options that are affectively superior, and (b) increases the effects of incidental affect on evaluations. These effects are observed when compared to both a more distant future and a more distant past. Additional results suggest that (c) these effects are linked to a greater perceived information value of affective feelings in decisions whose outcomes are closer to the present. Results from another four experiments further show that a classic affective judgment bias — the scope insensitivity bias — is more pronounced in decisions anchored in the present than in decisions anchored in the future or in the past. Taken together with previous empirical findings, our results point to a specific orientation of the affective system toward the present.
Source: Journal of Consumer Research
Chang, Hannah, and Michel Tuan Pham. "Affect as a Decision Making System of the Present." Journal of Consumer Research (forthcoming).