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Partition dependence in consumer choice: Perceptual groupings do not reliably shape decisions
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2018)
  • Sheri Reichelson, Wesleyan University
  • Ali Zax, Wesleyan University
  • Ilona Bass, Wesleyan University
  • Andrea L Patalano, Wesleyan University
  • Hilary C. Barth, Wesleyan University
The partitioning of options into arbitrary categories has been shown to influence decisions about allocating choices or resources among those options; this phenomenon is called partition dependence. While we do not call into question the validity of the partition dependence phenomenon in the present work, we do examine the robustness of one of the experimental paradigms reported by Fox, Ratner, and Lieb (Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 134, 538551, 2005, Study 4). In three experiments (N = 300) conducted here, participants chose from a menu of perceptually partitioned options (varieties of candy distributed across bowls). We found no clear evidence of partition dependent choice in children (Experiment 1) and no evidence at all of partition dependence in adultschoices (Experiments 13). This was true even when methods were closely matched to those of Fox et al.s Study 4 (Experiment 3). We conclude that the candy-bowl choice task does not reliably elicit partition dependence and propose possible explanations for the discrepancy between these findings and prior reports. Future work will explore the conditions under which partition dependence in consumer choice does reliably arise.
  • partition dependence,
  • resource allocation,
  • decision making
Publication Date
Citation Information
Reichelson, S., Zax, A., Bass, I., Patalano, A. L., & Barth, H. C. (2018). Partition dependence in consumer choice: Perceptual groupings do not reliably shape decisions. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25, 1178-1183.