Effects of self-other decision making on regulatory focus and choice overload

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2012 May;102(5):980-93. doi: 10.1037/a0026966. Epub 2012 Mar 19.

Abstract

A growing stream of research is investigating how choices people make for themselves are different from choices people make for others. In this paper, I propose that these choices vary according to regulatory focus, such that people who make choices for themselves are prevention focused, whereas people who make choices for others are promotion focused. Drawing on regulatory focus theory, in particular work on errors of omission and commission, I hypothesize that people who make choices for others experience a reversal of the choice overload effect. In 6 studies, including a field study, I found that people who make choices for themselves are less satisfied after selecting among many options compared to few options, yet, people who make choices for others are more satisfied after selecting among many options compared to few options. Implications and suggestions for other differences in self-other decision making are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Proxy / psychology*
  • Psychological Distance
  • Self-Assessment
  • Social Control, Informal*
  • United States