Improving comparative purchases

From :

research suggests that comparison shopping may sometimes come at a cost. By altering the psychological context in which decisions are made, comparison shopping may distract consumers from attributes of a product that will be important for their happiness, focusing their attention instead on attributes that distinguish the available options….

When asked directly, first-year students in our study reported that the physical features of the houses (e.g., location, room size) would be less important for their happiness than the social features (e.g., sense of community, relationships with roommates). Indeed, when these students later settled into their houses as sophomores and juniors, their happiness was predicted by the quality of social features but not by the quality of physical features in the houses. But, when these students stood on the brink of entering the housing lottery and were asked to predict how happy they would be living in each of the twelve houses, their attention gravitated to the features that differed most between the houses; their predictions were driven largely by the physical characteristics of each house, which varied greatly between the twelve houses, while they overlooked the role of social features in shaping their own future happiness. Because students focused excessively on highly variable features of the houses, they fell victim to the impact bias, overestimating how happy they would be living in the physically desirable houses and how miserable they would be living in the less desirable houses.

The take-away? Set up your criteria ahead of time, if possible with a ratings scale and weights. That way you can simply rate each option on the things you know are important to you, weight those ratings across options, and come up with an answer.

Other options?

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