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Choice-induced preference change in the free-choice paradigm: a critical methodological review

Izuma, Keise and Murayama, Kou (2013) Choice-induced preference change in the free-choice paradigm: a critical methodological review. Frontiers in Psychology, 4 . Art. No. 41. ISSN 1664-1078. PMCID PMC3566335. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00041.

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Choices not only reflect our preference, but they also affect our behavior. The phenomenon of choice-induced preference change has been of interest to cognitive dissonance researchers in social psychology, and more recently, it has attracted the attention of researchers in economics and neuroscience. Preference modulation after the mere act of making a choice has been repeatedly demonstrated over the last 50 years by an experimental paradigm called the “free-choice paradigm.” However, Chen and Risen (2010) pointed out a serious methodological flaw in this paradigm, arguing that evidence for choice-induced preference change is still insufficient. Despite the flaw, studies using the traditional free-choice paradigm continue to be published without addressing the criticism. Here, aiming to draw more attention to this issue, we briefly explain the methodological problem, and then describe simple simulation studies that illustrate how the free-choice paradigm produces a systematic pattern of preference change consistent with cognitive dissonance, even without any change in true preference. Our stimulation also shows how a different level of noise in each phase of the free-choice paradigm independently contributes to the magnitude of artificial preference change. Furthermore, we review ways of addressing the critique and provide a meta-analysis to show the effect size of choice-induced preference change after addressing the critique. Finally, we review and discuss, based on the results of the stimulation studies, how the criticism affects our interpretation of past findings generated from the free-choice paradigm. We conclude that the use of the conventional free-choice paradigm should be avoided in future research and the validity of past findings from studies using this paradigm should be empirically re-established.

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Additional Information:© 2013 Izuma and Murayama. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc. Received: 21 December 2012; Accepted: 18 January 2013; Published online: 07 February 2013. We thank Dr. Jared B. Kenworthy for sharing the meta-analysis data. This work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences (Keise Izuma and Kou Murayama). Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest
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Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:preference change, attitude change, free-choice paradigm, cognitive dissonance, choice justification, self-perception theory, cognitive consistency, social influence
PubMed Central ID:PMC3566335
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130219-091246957
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Official Citation:Izuma K and Murayama K (2013) Choice-induced preference change in the free-choice paradigm: a critical methodological review. Front. Psychology 4:41. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00041
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:36973
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:25 Feb 2013 23:12
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:26

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