Emotional Trade-Off Difficulty and Choice

Luce, Mary Frances; Payne, John W.; Bettman, James R.
May 1999
Journal of Marketing Research (JMR);May99, Vol. 36 Issue 2, p143
Academic Journal
In this article, the authors explore whether choice patterns are sensitive to the potential of relevant trade-offs to elicit negative emotion. Across three experiments, decision makers increasingly use a choice strategy that maximizes quality at the expense of some currency (usually price) when the quality attribute is rated as more inherently emotion-laden (Experiment 1) or involves losses rather than gains (Experiments 2 and 3). These emotional trade-off difficulty effects on choice are obtained even after controlling for effects that are attributable to subjects' relative importance weights for the quality versus currency attributes. A fourth experiment validates that tasks requiring losses (versus gains) on quality attributes are assessed as particularly emotion-laden by naive subjects. Overall, it appears that coping with potentially emotion-laden choice trade-offs is one factor influencing consumer choice strategies. Thus, emotional trade-off difficulty is a factor that marketers should consider when attempting to predict and explain consumer choice patterns. These conclusions are consistent with recent research that argues that avoiding or otherwise coping with negative emotion is an important goal that guides decision behavior (e.g., Larrick 1993; Luce, Bettman, and Payne 1997; Simonson 1992).


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