‘First Is Best’, says the title of a study recently published in PLoS ONE. Its authors, from the University of California and Harvard University, maintain that, when forced to make a quick decision, people will usually choose the option that comes first, be it a person or a consumer good.
The researchers made three experiments in which the participants had to choose between two options. In the first experiment, 123 subjects had to decide between two salesmen/women. In the second experiment, 207 passengers at a train had to choose between two flavors of bubblegum. In the third one, 31 individuals stated which one of two convicted criminals was more worthy of being released of prison.
‘The order of individuals performing on talent shows like American Idol. The order of potential companies recommended by a stockbroker. The order of college acceptance letters received by an applicant. All of these firsts have privileged status,’ says Dana R. Carney, co-author of the study and researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. ‘Our research shows that managers, for example in management or marketing, may want to develop their business strategies knowing that first encounters are preferable to their clients or consumers.’
Dana R. Carney, & Mahzarin R. Banaji (2012). First Is Best PLoS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035088
The Art of Decisions