Tuesday, 27 November 2012

It's Your Choice...

So it's a close call between your favourite teams playing at the weekend. In fact, you can't pick between them. But from a psychological perspective, what can we learn from such a choice? Well, Shafir (1993) has shown that choosing one of two things is not the complement of rejecting one of the two things. Sometimes when deciding between two options, people both select and reject the same option. When we are trying to select an option we tend to focus on positive features and when we are looking for reasons to reject we tend to focus on negative. Thus, positive features will be 
selected over negative. However, failing to resolve conflict can also be revealing. The economist, Thomas Schelling, tells of an occasion when he went to buy an encyclopaedia for his children. At the bookshop he was presented with two attractive encyclopaedia and finding it difficult to choose between them, went home with neither - despite the feeling he would have happily bought either if it had been the only one available. Unresolved conflict can cause people to defer choosing because they lack a clear reason to select either option.