Journal of Consumer Behaviour

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Volume 18 Issue 2 (March 2019), Pages 75-176

Go big or go home: Risk seeking for experiential choices (pages 97-108)

Abstract In decision making under risk, do consumers evaluate intangible, experiential options in a choice set in the same way they evaluate tangible, material options? Prior research on prospect theory, typically using either monetary or material objects as choice options, demonstrates that consumers are risk averse for choices involving gains, with a fairly robust tendency to favor a more certain outcome even when that outcome is less desirable. The present research focuses on decision making under risk for experiential options (from movies to concert tickets to hotel stays)—identifying choices between experiential options as a realm in which prospect theory's pattern of risk aversion is weakened and sometimes reversed. Across six studies, this research demonstrates that consumers are more risk seeking for experiential choices and thus more likely to prefer more desirable options, even options that are less certain. Further, the stronger personal connection fostered by experiential (vs. material) choice options mediates risk‐seeking preferences. This work demonstrates a moderator for prospect theory and investigates the tendency toward increased risk seeking among experiential options, in this paper termed a “go big or go home” strategy. Conversely, consistent risk aversion is evidenced for choices involving material options (from clothing to accessories and furniture).

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