Article

I'm no longer torn after choice: how explicit choices implicitly shape preferences of odors.

Laboratory for the Study of Emotion Elicitation and Expression, Department of Psychology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 04/2010; 21(4):489-93. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610364115
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Several studies have shown that preferences can be strongly modulated by cognitive processes such as decision making and choices. However, it is still unclear whether choices can influence preferences of sensory stimuli implicitly. This question was addressed here by asking participants to evaluate odors, to choose their preferred odors within pairs, to reevaluate the odors, and to perform an unexpected memory test. Results revealed, for the first time in the study of olfaction, the existence of postchoice preference changes, in the sense of an overvaluation of chosen odors and a devaluation of rejected ones, even when choices were forgotten. These results suggest that chemosensory preferences can be modulated by explicit choices and that such modulation might rely on implicit mechanisms. This finding rules out any explanation of postchoice preference changes in terms of experimental demand and strongly challenges the classical cognitive-dissonance-reduction account of such preference changes.

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