How can we increase stability in choices? The role of confidence

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In this study, we examined how we can increase the consistency by which people make choices. Whether people will choose an item again after making an initial choice is determined by the degree of confidence in the outcome of the initial choice (Folke et al., 2016). To date, studies have only tested the effects of confidence in correlational designs. The current research attempted to experimentally increase confidence in the outcome of choices and thereby stability of choices. We hypothesized confidence could be increased by increasing explicit memory for the choices. In two preregistered lab studies (n = 45 and n = 42) participants decided between same-value choice pairs of food items for consumption. As a manipulation, participants were asked to recall the outcomes of their choices for some of the pairs. This was done to increase explicit memory for the outcome of the choice. Afterwards, they rated confidence in the outcome of their choices. Next, they received each choice pair again four times to measure choice stability. The memory manipulation failed to work in the first experiment, but in the second experiment, this manipulation was successful. Results of the second experiment indicated that participants were more confident in choices they had recalled previously and were also more likely to repeat these choices. This effect of choice recall on stability was mediated by choice confidence. These findings signify that choice confidence is an important determinant of choice stability, and that an intervention focused on establishing strong memory representations for initial choices can increase choice stability via choice confidence.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen