Thinking Too Much: Introspection Can Reduce the Quality of Preferences and Decisions

  • Wilson T
  • Schooler J
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Abstract

In Study 1, college students' preferences for different brands of strawberry jams were compared with experts' ratings of the jams. Students who analyzed why they felt the way they did agreed less with the experts than students who did not. In Study 2, college students' preferences for college courses were compared with expert opinion. Some students were asked to analyze reasons; others were asked to evaluate all attributes of all courses. Both kinds of introspection caused people to make choices that, compared with control subjects', corresponded less with expert opinion. Analyzing reasons can focus people's attention on nonoptimal criteria, causing them to base their subsequent choices on these criteria. Evaluating multiple attributes can moderate people's judgments, causing them to discriminate less between the different alternatives.

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