Choice-Supportive BiasOpen Access

Choice-Supportive Bias

We recall more of the positives of our choices over any negatives

Once we buy, we feel guilt and internal conflict. To overcome this, we rationalize it by seeking out supportive information, leading to warped opinions.

Henkel & Mather (2007). Memory attributions for choices: How beliefs shape our memories. Journal of Memory and Language.

The study

Setup

80 people were asked to choose between two used cars with an equal number of positive and negative traits. Two days later, they had to recall which features were for their car and which were from the other.

Results

The results showed that they incorrectly chose more positive features for their choice and more negatives for the car they didn’t choose.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

Remind customers of their good choice.

Embrace rationalization and use this to help people feel great about their choices. Post-purchase, don’t just send an order confirmation, send an order celebration, like Fitbit do. Finish on a Peak!

Takeaway image

Use as a platform for further steps.

Choices can also be validated by unlocking a new set of actions. Joining the club, getting drip-fed how-to guides, booking an event ticket or sharing a referral code are all tasks that help support previous choices. Harry’s does this very well with its shaving advice.

What next steps do you want a new customer to take?

Takeaway image

Prime and capture positive sentiment.

Send a follow-up email a short period of time after product use with a simple call-to-action, such as a one-click star rating button with Social Proof evidence.

Takeaway image
Takeaway image
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Choice-Supportive Bias

Choice-Supportive Bias

We recall more of the positives of our choices over any negatives

Once we buy, we feel guilt and internal conflict. To overcome this, we rationalize it by seeking out supportive information, leading to warped opinions.

The study

Setup

80 people were asked to choose between two used cars with an equal number of positive and negative traits. Two days later, they had to recall which features were for their car and which were from the other.

Results

The results showed that they incorrectly chose more positive features for their choice and more negatives for the car they didn’t choose.

study graph
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We value things more when they’re in limited supply

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We copy the behaviors of others, especially in unfamiliar situations

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A loss hurts more than an equal gain feels good

Reciprocity

Reciprocity

We’re hardwired to return kindness received

Framing

Framing

We make very different decisions based on how a fact is presented

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Loss Aversion

We feel more negative when losing something than positive when we gain it

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Default Effect

We tend to accept the option pre-chosen for us

Anchoring

Anchoring

What we see first affects our judgement of everything thereafter

Fast & Slow Thinking

Fast & Slow Thinking

We make knee-jerk spontaneous decisions that can cause regretful damage

Salience

Salience

Our choices are determined by the information we're shown

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We don’t like uncertainty and generally stick to what we know
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