Preference Fluency in Choice

The authors propose that consumer choices are often systematically influenced by preference fluency (i.e., the subjective feeling that forming a preference for a specific option is easy or difficult). Four studies manipulate the fluency of preference formation by presenting descriptions in an easy- or difficult-to-read font (Study 1) or by asking participants to think of few versus many reasons for their choice (Studies 2-4). As the authors predict, subjective experiences of difficulty increase choice deferral (Studies 1 and 2) and the selection of a compromise option (Studies 3 and 4), unless consumers are induced to attribute the experience to an unrelated cause. Unlike studies of decision conflict, these effects are obtained without changing the attributes of the alternatives, the composition of the choice sets, or the reference points. The authors discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the results. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]