The Skeptical Shopper: A Metacognitive Account for the Effects of Default Options on Choice

  • Brown C
  • Krishna A
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Abstract

A default option is the choice alternative a consumer receives if he/she does not explicitly specify otherwise. In this article we argue that defaults can invoke a consumer’s “marketplace metacognition,” his/her social intelligence about marketplace behavior. This metacognitive account of defaults leads to different predictions than accounts based on cognitive limitations or endowment: in particular, it predicts the possibility of negative or “backfire” default effects. In two experiments, we demonstrate that the size and direction of the default effect depend on whether this social intelligence is invoked and how it changes the interpretation of the default.

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Authors

  • Christina L. Brown

  • Aradhna Krishna

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