Should consumers trust their feelings as information?

Jun 19, 2012

Consumers who trust their feelings are more likely to make choices based on what "feels right" even when feelings are irrelevant to their decision, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Certain individuals have a stronger belief that their feelings will generally point them in the right direction. These individual differences in trust in feelings are not fixed , but rather recurring tendencies that arise from the person's history of success or failure in on feelings, as well as from surrounding social and cultural norms," write authors Tamar Avnet (Yeshiva University), Michel Tuan Pham (Columbia University), and Andrew T. Stephen (University of Pittsburgh).

Should I buy a shirt based on how it makes me feel or based on its price? Should I buy a house because it makes me feel good or because it's well priced? Should I get married because I feel like it is the right thing to do or because my spouse is a good provider? Consumers can rely on their feelings to make various decisions but what determines whether or not they will use their feelings as information?

The authors found that trust in feelings influences the degree to which people believe that their feelings provide trustworthy information. They studied consumers who played the classic in which two players have to split a sum of money based on one of the players making an offer and the other accepting or rejecting that offer.

High trust in feelings amplified the to reject unfair offers—an emotionally driven response that is considered rationally inferior—but did not affect the probability of accepting fair offers. "High trust in feelings encourages choices that 'feel right' even in the presence of compelling information that favors an opposite response," the authors write.

"For feelings to be relied upon, either a high trust in feelings or a high relevance of feelings seems sufficient. Trust in feelings and relevance of feelings are therefore distinct and equally important determinants of the perceived information value of ," the authors conclude.

Explore further: Change 'authoritarian' football culture to produce future stars, says research

More information: Tamar Avnet, Michel Tuan Pham, and Andrew T. Stephen. "Consumers' Trust in Feelings as Information." Journal of Consumer Research: December 2012.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The emotional oracle effect

Feb 24, 2012

A forthcoming article in the Journal of Consumer Research by Professor Michel Tuan Pham, Kravis Professor of Business, Marketing, Columbia Business School; Leonard Lee, Associate Professor, Marketing, Columbia Business School ...

Deal or no deal? The role of emotions in negotiating offers

Oct 15, 2008

Do skilled negotiators simply go with their gut instinct every time or are they just extremely calculating, figuring out all possible outcomes before making a choice? Columbia University researchers examined how emotions ...

Trust your gut ... but only sometimes

Jan 04, 2011

When faced with decisions, we often follow our intuition—our self-described "gut feelings"—without understanding why. Our ability to make hunch decisions varies considerably: Intuition can either be a useful ally ...

Promises come at a price

Jun 30, 2009

Be careful what you promise people. You are not just obliging yourself to keep your promises; other people will hold you to account for them as well. Dutch-sponsored researcher Manuela Vieth investigated how the behaviour ...

Recommended for you

Male-biased tweeting

9 hours ago

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Developing nations ride a motorcycle boom

10 hours ago

Asia's rapidly developing economies should prepare for a full-throttle increase in motorcycle numbers as average incomes increase, a new study from The Australian National University has found.

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (2) Jun 19, 2012
Yes. I feel that they should.

No. I feel that they should not.

1 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2012
Yes, I do believe, the Darwinian process of natural selection should run smoothly.
5 / 5 (2) Jun 19, 2012
Should I buy a house because it makes me feel good or because it's well priced?

Damn. If you can afford to buy a house because 'it feels good' then you have different kinds of troubles than the rest of humanity.

While feelings may not be the most trustworthy guidelines there must be a reason that they are part of our evolutionary baggage (or those without feelings would have outbred those with feelings). Certainly it must provide a benefit to have them over making decisions without them - unless there are solely beneficial in terms of bindig a partner to oneself.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2012
Value is determined by the purchaser based upon all inputs.
evolutionary baggage
Don't watch much Star Trek?
not rated yet Jun 24, 2012
And in an environment where the manufacturer and retailer have done their best to hide and obscure all of those inputs.

"Value is determined by the purchaser based upon all inputs." - RyggTard

Fortunately Government at least has forced the vermin to include the ingredients of the food products they sell.

More news stories

Not just the poor live hand-to-mouth

When the economy hits the skids, government stimulus checks to the poor sometimes follow. Stimulus programs—such as those in 2001, 2008 and 2009—are designed to boost the economy quickly by getting cash ...

Male-biased tweeting

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.

Math modeling handbook now available

Math comes in handy for answering questions about a variety of topics, from calculating the cost-effectiveness of fuel sources and determining the best regions to build high-speed rail to predicting the spread ...