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Darren Dahl (Editor in Chief)Eileen FischerGita JoharVicki Morwitz

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Heart and Mind in Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making

Baba Shiv , Alexander Fedorikhin
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/209563 278-292 First published online: 1 December 1999

Abstract

This article examines how consumer decision making is influenced by automatically evoked task-induced affect and by cognitions that are generated in a more controlled manner on exposure to alternatives in a choice task. Across two experiments respondents chose between two alternatives: one (chocolate cake) associated with more intense positive affect but less favorable cognitions, compared to a second (fruit salad) associated with less favorable affect but more favorable cognitions. Findings from the two experiments suggest that if processing resources are limited, spontaneously evoked affective reactions rather than cognitions tend to have a greater impact on choice. As a result, the consumer is more likely to choose the alternative that is superior on the affective dimension but inferior on the cognitive dimension (e.g., chocolate cake). In contrast, when the availability of processing resources is high, cognitions related to the consequences of choosing the alternatives tend to have a bigger impact on choice compared to when the availability of these resources is low. As a result, the consumer is more likely to choose the alternative that is inferior on the affective dimension but superior on the cognitive dimension (e.g., fruit salad). The moderating roles of the mode of presentation of the alternatives and of a personality variable related to impulsivity are also reported.