Journal Article

Delegating Decisions: Recruiting Others to Make Choices We Might Regret

Mary Steffel and Elanor F Williams

Edited by Vicki Morwitz and Andrea Morales

in Journal of Consumer Research

Volume 44, issue 5, pages 1015-1032
Published in print February 2018 | ISSN: 0093-5301
Published online July 2017 | e-ISSN: 1537-5277 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucx080
Delegating Decisions: Recruiting Others to Make Choices We Might Regret

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Consumers typically prefer freedom of choice, but when faced with a choice they might regret, they may prefer freedom from choice. Eight experiments show that people delegate difficult decisions, regardless of the decision’s importance, and regardless of their potential surrogate’s expertise. Delegation stems from a desire to avoid responsibility for potentially making the wrong choice rather than simply the desire to avoid the possibility of a poor outcome: although anticipated disappointment with the outcome and anticipated regret about one’s decision both contribute to the decision to delegate, only anticipated regret directly leads people to delegate choices to others. Consequently, delegation is an appealing method for coping with difficult choices while allowing consumers to retain the benefits of choosing that they would forgo by opting out of the choice. Moreover, giving people the option to delegate makes them less prone to walk away from difficult choices empty-handed.

Keywords: choice delegation; choice deferral; responsibility; regret

Journal Article.  14685 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychology ; Marketing ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Economics ; Sociology

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