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Unformatted text preview: Research Article Try It, You’ll Like It The Influence of Expectation, Consumption, and Revelation on Preferences for Beer Leonard Lee, 1 Shane Frederick, 2 and Dan Ariely 2 1 Columbia Business School, Columbia University, and 2 Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ABSTRACT— Patrons of a pub evaluated regular beer and ‘‘MIT brew’’ (regular beer plus a few drops of balsamic vinegar) in one of three conditions. One group tasted the samples blind (the secret ingredient was never dis- closed). A second group was informed of the contents before tasting. A third group learned of the secret ingredient im- mediately after tasting, but prior to indicating their pref- erence. Not surprisingly, preference for the MIT brew was higher in the blind condition than in either of the two dis- closure conditions. However, the timing of the information mattered substantially. Disclosure of the secret ingredient significantly reduced preference only when the disclosure preceded tasting, suggesting that disclosure affected pref- erences by influencing the experience itself, rather than by acting as an independent negative input or by modifying retrospective interpretation of the experience. The quality of an experience is jointly determined by bottom-up processes, which reflect characteristics of the stimulus im- pinging on the perceiver’s sensory organs, and top-down processes, which reflect the perceiver’s beliefs, desires, and expectations. The role of each kind of process can be illustrated by the perception of ambiguous figures, such as Jastrow’s famous rabbit-duck illusion. Visual experience surely depends on what is in the image, but may also be affected by what one expects to see. Although Jastrow’s figure is never interpreted as a giraffe or a scorpion, it might look like either a rabbit or a duck depending on which concept has been primed. The influence of top-down and bottom-up processes has been a central theme across many domains of psychology. Visual perception is affected by prior conceptual structures, as well as by characteristics of the visual stimulus itself (Biederman, 1972; Palmer, 1975); assessments of a person’s ability are influenced by expectations of his or her ability, as well as by objective performance measures (Darley & Gross, 1983; Jones, Rock, Shaver, Goethals, & Ward, 1968); judgments of extended events are driven by the quality of one’s experiences and the inter- pretation one imposes on them (Brief, Butcher, George, & Link 1993; David, Green, Martin, & Suls, 1997); the enjoyment of a film is influenced by expectations of its quality, as well as by its true quality and the conditions under which it is viewed (Klaa- ren, Hodges, & Wilson, 1994); and even memories can be col- ored by one’s theories of what should have occurred, rather than what did occur (Cohen, 1981; Stangor & McMillan, 1992)....
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