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Focusing Effect

 

Explanations > Theories > Focusing Effect

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

When we are making judgments, we tend to weigh attributes and factors unevenly, putting more importance on some aspects and less on others.

This is typically due to factors such as stereotyping and schemas that we use that bring certain factors to mind and downplay others.

Research

Schkade and Kahneman asked people who would be happier, Californians or Mid-westerners. Many said Californians because they placed disproportionate focus on the assumption of there being more sun in California and that the lifestyle was more relaxed. The higher crime rate and threat of earthquakes in California was not given any focus.

Example

I am deciding between buying one of several houses. I choose the house with the biggest kitchen, perhaps because my current kitchen is small and this causes me problems.

So What?

Using it

Get people thinking about the topic for decision long ahead of the decision to be made. Put particular emphasis on, and play up, attributes that you want them to use when deciding.

Defending

When making a decision, pause to identify all attributes first and give them rational weighting.

See also

Stereotypes, Schema, Availability Heuristic

References

Schkade and Kahneman (1998)

 

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