Rejectable Choice Sets: How Seemingly Irrelevant No-Choice Options Affect Consumer Decision Processes

Parker, Jeffrey R; Schrift, Rom Y
October 2011
Journal of Marketing Research (JMR);Oct2011, Vol. 48 Issue 5, p840
Academic Journal
To date, research on no-choice options has primarily examined the conditions that foster choice deferral, thus focusing on the frequency with which consumers select the no-choice option. In this article, the authors argue that even if the no-choice option is not selected, its mere presence in the choice set may alter consumers' choices. More specifically, they investigate how decision processes and preferences change when consumers have a no-choice option versus when they are forced to choose from a given choice set. They propose that the inclusion of a no-choice option in a choice set affects preferences by leading consumers to determine not only which alternative is best, but which, if any, are acceptable (i.e., meet the consumer's minimum needs). Accordingly, the authors demonstrate that the inclusion of a no-choice option in the choice set (1) leads to more alternative- (rather than attribute-) based information processing, (2) increases the importance of attributes that are more meaningful when alternatives are evaluated one by one (i.e., enriched attributes), and (3) increases the importance of attributes with levels that are closer to the consumer's minimum needs (thresholds). They demonstrate that such changes influence consumers' preference structures and ultimate choices. They conclude with a discussion of the theoretical, methodological, and managerial implications of these findings.


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