How Genetics Affect Consumer Choice

http://www.genomesunzipped.org/2011/04/happy-dna-day-heres-your-alzheimers-risk.php“heritable and other hard-wired inherent preference components play a key role in behavior and deserve much more attention in marketing and decision-making research…”

In their study, “On the Heritability of Consumer Decision Making: An Exploratory Approach for Studying Genetic Effects on Judgment and Choice”, researchers Itamar Simonson and Aner Selaa find that many consumer behaviors related to judgment, choice, and decision making are influenced by genetic factors.

The authors studied twins’ consumer preferences to determine whether or not certain behaviors or traits have a genetic basis. “A greater similarity in behavior or trait between identical than between fraternal twins indicates that the behavior or trait is likely to be heritable,” the authors explain.

They discovered that people seem to inherit the following tendencies:

  • To choose a compromise option and avoid extremes
  • Select sure gains over gambles
  • Prefer an easy but non-rewarding task over an enjoyable challenging one
  • Look for the best option available
  • Prefer utilitarian, clearly needed options (like batteries) over more indulgent ones (gourmet chocolate).

The researchers also found that some tendencies did not seem to be heritable like a preference for a smaller versus larger product variety or likings for mustard and tattoos.

The authors believe their work may reveal some important information on the genetics of “prudence.” “Some people may be born with a tendency to ‘be in the mainstream’ whereas others tend to ‘live on the edge,” the authors conclude.

Full Article

Itamar Simonson and Aner Sela. On the Heritability of Consumer Decision Making: An Exploratory Approach for Studying Genetic Effects on Judgment and Choice. Journal of Consumer Research, April 2011

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