Procedural and economic utilities in consequentialist choice: Trading freedom of choice to minimize financial losses

Daniel A. Decaro, Marci S. Decaro, Jared M. Hotaling, Joseph G. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Work on procedural utility suggests that decision makers derive more value from outcomes earned with freedom of choice. We experimentally tested tradeoffs between procedural and outcome utility, examining financial losses as an important boundary condition. Participants completed a simulated consumer sales task (Exp. 1) or card task (Exp. 2) with or without choice. Participants reported their satisfaction with monetary outcomes. When given choice, participants reported greater selfdetermination. Participants also reported higher outcome satisfaction, but only for gains. Choice did not influence satisfaction for losses. In Experiment 2, Participants also preferred choice when selecting between financial gains. However, when choice was costly (large disparity in pay) or posed losses, most participants sacrificed choice for better payoffs. Results are consistent with a cognitive model in which participants shift their attention from procedural utilities to financial outcomes when faced with losses. Financial outcomes may take precedence over choice when financial outcomes are threatened.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-533
Number of pages17
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Volume15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Economic rational choice theory
  • Loss aversion
  • Negativity bias
  • Procedural utility
  • Self-determination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics

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