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When tasked with making choices for a big group, like selecting wine for the table, independent people typically make choices that more strongly reflect their own preferences, according to a new University of Alberta study examining how consumers make unilateral decisions for themselves and others.
"The challenge of this group decision process is that you know what you like, and you probably want to get what you like—but you're also aware of the preferences of others, and they're going to know what you choose," said marketing researcher Sarah Moore.
Matters - Types - Decisions - Interdependent - People
"It turns out what matters for these types of decisions is what's called self-construal—whether or not you see yourself as being independent from, or interdependent with, other people."
Study participants completed a task that prompted them to adopt either an independent or an interdependent self-construal.
Wine - Group - Friends - Dinner - Preference
They were then asked to imagine they were choosing wine for a group of friends at dinner, knowing only that wine preference for the party was split evenly between white and red. Participants were given a budget and asked to choose one bottle of white wine and one bottle of red wine for everybody to share.
What Moore and her colleagues found was that independents choosing for a larger group of between six and nine people spent more on the wine they preferred. In other words, if they preferred red wine, they chose more expensive red—about 30 percent more in one study—than white wine. In contrast, interdependent consumers consistently spent equal amounts on red and white wines, regardless of group size.
Effect - Independents - Attention - Others - Group
"We find that this effect occurs because independents pay less attention to others as group size increases. Their attention may decrease because they give up—perhaps it's too difficult for them to attend to everyone and balance everybody's preferences as the group gets larger. But it's also possible that this is strategic...
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