Blissfully ignorant: Skip those pesky details

Sep 15, 2008

Wouldn't you like some more information about that cream puff? Not if you just ate it. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research examined what's known as the "Blissful Ignorance Effect," the way consumers' goals shift after they've made purchases.

According to authors Himanshu Mishra (University of Utah), Baba Shiv (Stanford University), and Dhananjay Nayakankuppam (University of Iowa) people who are about to make decisions want as many details as possible. But after a decision is made, people want to be happy with it. In that case, vague information increases optimism about the decision.

"It does appear that vagueness can actually make one more optimistic about one's own life choices and subjective well-being by allowing one to see what one wants to see—a case of ignorance truly being bliss!" the authors write. "The Blissful Ignorance Effect suggests that individuals have a tendency to expect more favorable outcomes with vague information after taking an action than prior to taking the action."

In three studies, the authors examined participants who made decisions on chocolates, hand lotions, and animated movies. They found in each case that participants felt more optimistic about the choices they had made when they were presented with vague information (such as incomplete nutritional information or sketchy reviews) after they made their decisions.

"Having documented the Blissful Ignorance Effect, we highlighted the underlying process based on the interplay of two goals—the goal of being accurate and the goal of feeling good about one's decision," the authors explain.

"It would behoove marketers to capitalize on this enhanced optimism as part of their "buzz-marketing" campaigns," the authors suggest.

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: Freedom and responsibility of science

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Human races: biological reality or cultural delusion?

17 hours ago

The issue of race has been in the news a lot lately with the canning of proposed amendments to Australia's Racial Discrimination Act, attempts by extremists to commit genocide on cultural minorities in Iraq and a new book by US autho ...

Why now is the time to link science, ocean policy

Aug 05, 2014

Brian Helmuth, a professor of marine and environmental sciences and public policy at Northeastern, co-authored a paper published July 30 in the journal Nature Climate Change in which he and his colleagues argue for greate ...

Why do some controversies persist despite the evidence?

Aug 04, 2014

The debate over climate change is relatively young while nuclear power and pesticides have been heated topics since the 1960s, and fluoridation since the 1950s. So what is it about these scientific controversies that ma ...

'Moral victories' might spare you from losing again

Jul 21, 2014

It's human nature to hate losing. Unfortunately, it's also human nature to overreact to a loss, potentially abandoning a solid strategy and thus increasing your chances of losing the next time around.

Recommended for you

Freedom and responsibility of science

3 hours ago

Yesterday, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Leopoldina National Academy of Sciences presented their recommendations for "The Freedom and Responsibility of Science" in Berlin. Both research organizations appeal ...

What I learned from debating science with trolls

Aug 20, 2014

I often like to discuss science online and I'm also rather partial to topics that promote lively discussion, such as climate change, crime statistics and (perhaps surprisingly) the big bang. This inevitably ...

Activists urge EU to scrap science advisor job

Aug 19, 2014

Nine major charities urged the European Commission on Tuesday to scrap a science advisor position it says puts too much power over sensitive policy into the hands of one person.

More to a skilled ear in music

Aug 15, 2014

The first pilot study in Australia to give musicians the skills and training to critically assess music by what they hear rather than what they see begins this month at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.The study aims to ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NOM
not rated yet Sep 15, 2008
In three studies, the authors examined participants who made decisions on chocolates, hand lotions, and animated movies. They found in each case that participants felt more optimistic about the choices they had made when they were presented with vague information (such as incomplete nutritional information or sketchy reviews) after they made their decisions.
But then they go and blissfully make the same stupid choice next time. Of course marketers are going to love this.