The Impact of a Two-Step Choice Process on Trade-Off Decisions

Article Abstract

Trade-offs between attributes are common when making product choices. Prior research suggests that consumers tend to avoid the extremes and opt for the middle options when they make a trade-off decision between two key product attributes (e.g., tastiness and healthiness of food items) in one step. In this research, we examine how consumers make such trade-off decisions in a two-step choice process in which consumers first choose between product categories competing on two key attributes and then make a final choice within the chosen category. In three studies, we show that when holding the actual choice options unchanged, consumers are more likely to make a more extreme final choice, prioritizing a single attribute rather than compromising when they follow a two-step choice process instead of a one-step process.

Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 48, Issue 3, October 2021, Pages 415–427

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About the researcher

My research is mainly in the area of consumer decision making, especially how consumers make trade-off decisions in various contexts, such as food consumption and financial decisions.

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