Decision making is a focal interest in consumer-behavior research; consumers constantly make decisions about the selection, consumption, and disposal of products. Many of the most important decisions consumers face involve making difficult trade-offs such as price versus safety in purchasing an automobile, quality of life versus longevity in some health care choices, or risk versus return in selecting investments for a child's educational expenses or for retirement. This monograph focuses on what makes some trade-offs more emotionally difficult than others and examines how variations in emotional trade-off difficulty affect how decision makers go about deciding and what decision is ultimately made.
A typical consumer choice, such as the simplified automobile purchase decision illustrated in Table 1.1, involves a set of alternatives defined by attributes or consequences. For instance, the alternative labeled Car A is expected to offer the consequences of very good safety protection in an accident and a $30,000 price tag, while Car B offers average safety but a lower price.
There is a conflict between the attributes safety and price in choosing between Car A and Car B in that the decision maker can have a lower price or more safety but not both. Resolving such conflicts between decisions attributes, that is, deciding whether to accept less of one goal in order to get more of another, is a fundamental aspect of any choice.
Table 1.1 Example Decision Matrix Price Safety Styling
Car A $30,000 Very Good Average
Car B $20,000 Average Good
Car C $40,000 Good Very Poor
We believe and will argue in this monograph that the price-safety trade-off associated with the decision illustrated in Table 1.1 has the potential for generating negative emotion in the decision maker. Emotional trade-offs are a crucial, central component of some of the decisions we must make. The cancer patient...