Public Release: 

How you feel drives how you choose

University of Chicago Press Journals

How do you think emotions affect your choices during challenging decisions, such as compromising on vehicle safety to get better gas mileage on a car? In their June 2005 article in the Journal of Consumer Research, Nitika Garg, Jeffrey Inman and Vikas Mittal find that angry consumers react very differently from sad consumers when making emotionally difficult trade-offs.

According to the study, angry consumers were 37% more likely to choose a default option than sad individuals. In contrast, sad individuals were not different from neutral mood individuals when it came to consumer decision making.

This study shows that all negative emotions are not the same. For instance, if you are choosing different retirement options, you are more likely to stick with the default retirement option (often company stock) if you are angry compared to sad. Sad people tend to examine all the options more carefully and choose the best available option. The moral: Don't make important decisions when you are angry.


Incidental and Task-Related Affect: A Re-Inquiry and Extension of the Influence of Choice. Journal of Consumer Research. June 2005.

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