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On the Heritability of Consumer Decision Making: An Exploratory Approach for Studying Genetic Effects on Judgment and Choice

Itamar Simonson and Aner Sela
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 37, No. 6 (April 2011), pp. 951-966
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/657022
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/657022
Page Count: 16
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On the Heritability of Consumer Decision Making: An Exploratory Approach for Studying Genetic Effects on Judgment and Choice
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Abstract

While constructed preferences have received a great deal of attention, there has been virtually no research regarding the genetic basis of consumer judgment and choice. In this research, we examine a wide range of previously unexplored heritable effects on consumer choices and judgments. Moreover, whereas prior research on heritable traits has typically employed a piecemeal approach, demonstrating each heritable trait separately, we propose an alternative way to simultaneously explore common mechanisms and links among heritable traits and behaviors. Using a classic twins study design, we find a large heritable effect on preferences for (a) compromise (but not dominating) options, (b) sure gains, (c) an upcoming feasible, dull assignment, (d) maximizing, (e) utilitarian options, and (f) certain products. Conversely, we do not find significant heritable effects regarding judgment heuristics, discounting, and other decision problems. We tentatively propose that the pattern of findings might reflect a generic heritable individual difference relating to “prudence.” We discuss the implications of our research with respect to the determinants of preferences and future research on heritable aspects of judgment and choice.

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