Consumers often make decisions based on the extremeness of choice alternatives. Prior research has argued that extremeness aversion is a function of the relational properties of choice alternatives and that the middle option, defined such that its attribute values are between the values of the other alternatives, is always viewed as the least extreme, compromise option. The attribute-balance hypothesis ad- vanced in this article extends prior research, demonstrating that extremenessaver- sion is also a function of the dispersion of attribute values within each alternative. In particular, it is argued that an option with equal attribute ratings will be perceived as the compromise alternative even when it is not the middle option. Data from three studies support this prediction, offering converging evidence for the attribute- balance effect in different decision contexts. Theoretical implications of the findings are discussed in the context of the extant extremeness aversion research.
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