The impact of anticipating satisfaction on consumer choice
How do preferences change when consumers focus on the anticipated satisfaction with a purchase rather than choice? In a series of three studies, we show that preferences, both expressed and revealed, change depending on the degree to which anticipated satisfaction is evoked. These shifts in preferences arise because, compared to choice, anticipated satisfaction elicits a mental-imaging processing strategy that is both more effort intensive and qualitatively different. By providing direct evidence from thought protocols and by presenting evidence suggesting that these shifts in preferences vanish when mental imagery is discouraged or made more difficult, we show that the effect arises out of a processing strategy that rquires effortful mental imagery of one or more of the options in the decision-making task. Finally, we demonstrate the uniqueness of the effect by showing that it cannot be generated with heightened processing or by an orientation that is directed toward the extent to which the options are liked.
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