Preference Reversals Between Joint and Separate Evaluations of Options: a Theoretical Analysis


Hsee, C.K., Loewenstein, G, Blount, S., and Bazerman, M. 1998. Preference reversals between joint and separate evaluations of options: a theoretical analysis. under review.


This paper reviews recent literature that documents a new type of preference reversal between two basic evaluation modes: joint evaluation mode (JE), in which multiple options are presented simultaneously and evaluated comparatively, and separate evaluation mode (SE), in which options are presented in isolation and evaluated separately. We propose an explanation for such joint-separate preference reversals based on a general principle that we call the evaluability hypothesis. The hypothesis posits that it is more difficult to evaluate the desirability of attribute values on some attributes than others, and that difficult-to-evaluate attributes loom larger in JE than in SE.