Past decisions do affect future choices: An experimental demonstration

Ayala Arad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper demonstrates experimentally that the mere fact that an alternative was chosen in the past increases the likelihood that it will be re-chosen in the future, when new alternatives are being offered. The experimental design consists of a new variation of the free-choice paradigm that is immune to Chen and Risen's (2010) criticism of how results have been interpreted in previous studies of post-decision effects. An additional experiment indicates that once participants have chosen a particular alternative they view its characteristics more positively. I suggest that the new design can be used to study various aspects of the effect of past decisions on future ones. In the present paper, I apply it to show that the allocation of limited resources among various uses may be biased in favor of a particular use if it was preferred to another in a previous situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-277
Number of pages11
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitude change
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Free-choice paradigm


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