Is choice-induced preference change long lasting?

Psychol Sci. 2012 Oct 1;23(10):1123-1129. doi: 10.1177/0956797612438733. Epub 2012 Aug 28.


The idea that decisions alter preferences has had a considerable influence on the field of psychology and underpins cognitive dissonance theory. Yet it is unknown whether choice-induced changes in preferences are long lasting or are transient manifestations seen in the immediate aftermath of decisions. In the research reported here, we investigated whether these changes in preferences are fleeting or stable. Participants rated vacation destinations before making hypothetical choices between destinations, immediately afterward, and 2.5 to 3 years later. We found that choices altered preferences both immediately after being made and after the delay. These changes could not be accounted for by participants' preexisting preferences, and they occurred only when participants made the choices themselves. Our findings provide evidence that making a decision can lead to enduring change in preferences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Cognitive Dissonance
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult