Psychological Science: Biased predecisional processing of leading and nonleading alternatives

April 8, 2014

Blanchard, S. J., Carlson, K. A., & Meloy, M. G. (2014). Biased predecisional processing of leading and nonleading alternatives. Psychological Science, 25(3), 812-816.

When people obtain information about choice alternatives in a set one attribute at a time, they rapidly identify a leading alternative. Although previous research has established that people then distort incoming information, it is unclear whether distortion occurs through favoring of the leading alternative, disfavoring of the trailing alternative, or both. Prior examinations have not explored the predecisional treatment of the nonleading alternative (or alternatives) because they conceptualized distortion as a singular construct in binary choice and measured it using a relative item comparing the evaluation of both alternatives simultaneously. In this article, we introduce a measure of distortion at the level of the alternative, which allows for measuring whether predecisional distortion favors or disfavors every alternative being considered in choice sets of various sizes. We report that both proleader and antitrailer distortion occur and that the use of antitrailer processing differs between binary choices and multiple-options choices.


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