ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2012, Vol. 44 ›› Issue (12): 1641-1650.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2012.01641

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The Influence Mechanism of Incidental Emotions on Choice Deferral

LI Xiao-Ming;XIE Jia   

  1. (Department of Psychology, Hunan Normal University, Changsha 410081, China)
  • Received:2012-07-09 Published:2012-12-25 Online:2012-12-25
  • Contact: LI Xiao-Ming

Abstract: The main purpose of this research was to discuss and analyze the effect of incidental emotions on choice deferral. After participants were evoked target emotions by pictures-induced or video clips-induced techniques in the two experiments, they were asked to complete the course or hotel selection task when the option of not choosing any of the alternatives was also provided. From the outcome-oriented and the process-oriented perspectives, this study aimed at exploring the influence of incidental emotions on choice deferral and the influencing mechanism. Study 1 used the pictures-induced technique to trigger target emotions (positive, neutral and negative) and to explore the effect of emotions and decision conflict on choice deferral. The results demonstrated that decision conflict affected choice deferral significantly, and higher decision conflict lead to more choice of the deferral options. The main effect for emotions was not significant. More importantly, there was a significant interaction on choice deferral; when the decision conflict was high, the participants in negative emotion would select the deferral option more often comparing with the participants in positive and neutral emotions; when the decision conflict was low, incidental emotions did not affect choice deferral significantly. Study 2 used the video clips-induced technique to evoke incidental emotions: happy and anger. In order to further explore the impact of the two target emotions on decision-making and to study the process of choice deferral, this study detected the process of decision-making by MouselabWeb procedure. The results showed that, individuals in the negative emotion (anger) would select the deferral option more often than happy individuals; there was a significant effect of the emotions on the process of decision-making. Happy individuals spent less time for searching information, and were involved in more reduced depth of information searching, greater variance in the proportion of time spent on each attribute and a more negative pattern (index reflecting degree of attribute-based (-) and alternative-based (+) processing); mediation analyses found that the time spent for searching process and the depth of information searching mediated the effect of incidental emotions on choice deferral. In general, this paper suggested that when there is not a dominating option in the choice options, individuals’ preference for the choice deferral is a function of emotions, such that preference for deferral is more pronounced for negative emotions than for positive emotions. Simultaneously, the decision-making strategies play an important role in the effect of emotions on choice deferral. Feelings-as-information theory could be used for explaining the results in the present studies.

Key words: incidental emotions, choice deferral, decision conflicts, decision strategies, MouselabWeb procedure