Post-decision Processes : Consolidation and value conflicts in decision making

Sammanfattning: The studies in the present thesis focus on post-decision processes using the theoretical framework of Differentiation and Consolidation Theory. This thesis consists of three studies. In all these studies, pre-decision evaluations are compared with post-decision evaluations in order to explore differences in evaluations of decision alternatives before and after a decision. The main aim of the studies was to describe and gain a clearer and better understanding of how people re-evaluate information, following a decision for which they have experienced the decision and outcome. The studies examine how the attractiveness evaluations of important attributes are restructured from the pre-decision to the post-decision phase; particularly restructuring processes of value conflicts. Value conflict attributes are those in which information speaks against the chosen alternative in a decision. The first study investigates an important real-life decision and illustrates different post-decision (consolidation) processes following the decision. The second study tests whether decisions with value conflicts follow the same consolidation (post-decision restructuring) processes when the conflict is controlled experimentally, as in earlier studies of less controlled real-life decisions. The third study investigates consolidation and value conflicts in decisions in which the consequences are controlled and of different magnitudes. The studies in the present thesis have shown how attractiveness restructuring of attributes in conflict occurs in the post-decision phase. Results from the three studies indicated that attractiveness restructuring of attributes in conflict was stronger for important real-life decisions (Study 1) and in situations in which real consequences followed a decision (Study 3) than in more controlled, hypothetical decision situations (Study 2). Finally, some proposals for future research are suggested, including studies of the effects of outcomes and consequences on consolidation of prior decisions and how a decision maker’s involvement affects his or her pre- and post-decision processes.