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Choice-Supportive Bias

Choice-Supportive Bias Definition

In cognitive science, choice-supportive bias is the tendency to remember our choices as better than they actually were, because we tend to over attribute positive features to options we chose and negative features to options not chosen. Individuals tend to think that “they chose this option so it must have been the better option”. As a result, we feel good about ourselves and our choices and have less regret for bad decisions.

For example, Henkel and Mather (2007) found that giving people false reminders about which option they chose in a previous experiment session led them to remember the option they had chosen as being better than the other option. In the first experiment session, participants had to decide between two used cars. In the second experiment session, Henkel and Mather gave them a list of the features of the two options but with some new positive and negative features mixed in with the old features. Next, participants were asked to indicate whether each option was new, had been associated with the option they chose, or had been associated with the option they rejected. Participants attributed the most positive features to the option they had originally chosen, even those that were completely new and hadn’t been attributed to either car in the first session.

Choice-supportive bias has applications in web-marketing, for example to get your customers to attribute positive features to your brand and products, and even negative ones to others. For example, a strategy can be to show previously visited pages and bought items to your visitors (in other words remind them that they have already “chosen” you). Another good practice can be reassuring customers on the choices they make to enhance their own choice-supportive bias and result in greater post-purchase satisfaction.

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