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Dazed and confused by choice: How the temporal costs of choice freedom lead to undesirable outcomes

By Simona Botti and Christopher K. Hsee

Abstract

We propose that individuals underestimate the costs of making choices relative to the benefits of finding the best option. Specifically, we demonstrate that research participants make systematic mistakes in predicting the effect of having more, vs. less, choice freedom on task performance and task-induced affect. Even when participants have the information to understand that the costs of choice freedom outweigh its benefits, they still predict that choice freedom will lead to better performance and more positive affect. As a result, those who have the option to choose exercise it, yet end up performing worse and feeling worse than those who do not have that option.Choice costs Choice benefits Time costs Freedom of choice Predictions

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