Sunday, April 12, 2009

Choosing What Makes Us Happy(4): Distinction Bias

Distinction bias occurs because choices and predictions are made in one evaluation mode, and when the experience occurs, the evaluation mode is different. Though this may initially sound to be similar to the projection bias, it is quite different. When choosers or predictors compare multiple options or scenarios, the evaluation is said to be made in the joint evaluation (JE) mode. The actual experience typically takes place without the comparator options, wherein the chooser savours only the chosen option. Here the evaluation is said to be made in the single evaluation or separate evaluation (SE) mode.

Differences which may appear distinct and significant in JE mode may actually be inconsequential in SE. Thus, due to differences in JE and SE, people in JE may overpredict the experiential difference between alternatives in SE.

At a party, a young man was introduced to two attractive ladies. He was wondering whom to ask for a date. He felt a rapport with one of the girls, but he asked the other one out because she was taller of the two. While on the date he realized that the girl’s being tall didn’t help the conversation and the happiness levels much. The girl’s being tall dictated his choice in the JE mode, but made no difference in the SE mode.

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