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Exposure to brands makes preferential decisions easier

Decision Making
Rahinel, R., Otto, A.S, Grossman, D., & Clarkson, J.J. (forthcoming)
Journal of Consumer Research

The most consequential consideration of brands arises during preferential decision making. As a consequence of the repeated pairing of brands and preferential decisions, this research proposes that exposure to brands initiates a cognitive state of readiness for preferential decisions (which we term decision readiness) that subsequently makes preferential decisions easier. Using both real and fictitious brands across a variety of choice contexts, seven experiments demonstrate that consumers find preferential decision making easier when it occurs in the presence (vs. absence) of brands. Consistent with the details of our framework, this effect: (i) is explained by the activation of decision readiness, (ii) leads to outcomes such as increased outcome satisfaction and decreased decision delegation, and (iii) is attenuated when exposure is to only one brand. Collectively, then, these findings demonstrate the importance of exposure to brands for decision making which, in turn, offers unique insight into existing literatures on brand exposure, decision difficulty, and brand roles.

Working hard to take the easy way out: How the need for cognitive closure shapes strategic effort investment to ease future decision making

Decision Making
Otto, A.S., Clarkson, J.J., & Martin, N.S. (forthcoming)
Journal of Consumer Psychology

Consumers make countless decisions each day that force them to determine the amount of effort they are willing to invest into the decision process. Due to their desire for immediate resolution and propensity to seize upon available options, individuals high in the need for cognitive closure make decisions that are traditionally associated with reduced effort investment. Counter to this traditional perspective, this research demonstrates that those seeking closure strategically invest effort into the decision process, so long as the initial effort investment is expected to simplify similar decisions in the future. Three experiments demonstrate that those motivated by closure put forth greater effort when they expect to repeat the decision (Experiment 1) and in contexts where a justifiable choice option is not readily available (Experiment 2). Furthermore, this effort investment is shown to payoff in terms of streamlining subsequent decision making (Experiment 3). These findings detail the strategic use of effort by those seeking closure to ease future decision making and thus provide a conceptual framework for when and why those seeking closure allocate effort in decision making.

Decision sidestepping: How the motivation for closure prompts individuals to bypass decision making.

Decision Making
Otto, A.S., Clarkson, J.J., & Kardes, F.R. (2016)
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(1), 1–16.

We all too often have to make decisions—from the mundane (e.g., what to eat for breakfast) to the complex (e.g., what to buy a loved one)—and yet there exists a multitude of strategies that allows us to make a decision. This work focuses on a subset of decision strategies that allows individuals to make decisions by bypassing the decision-making process—a phenomenon we term decision sidestepping. Critical to the present manuscript, however, we contend that decision sidestepping stems from the motivation to achieve closure. We link this proposition back to the fundamental nature of closure and how those seeking closure are highly bothered by decision making. As such, we argue that the motivation to achieve closure prompts a reliance on sidestepping strategies (e.g., default bias, choice delegation, status quo bias, inaction inertia, option fixation) to reduce the bothersome nature of decision making. In support of this framework, five experiments demonstrate that (a) those seeking closure are more likely to engage in decision sidestepping, (b) the effect of closure on sidestepping stems from the bothersome nature of decision making, and (c) the reliance on sidestepping results in downstream consequences for subsequent choice. Taken together, these findings offer unique insight into the cognitive motivations stimulating a reliance on decision sidestepping and thus a novel framework by which to understand how individuals make decisions while bypassing the decision-making process.