Causes and consequences of decision reversibility

Our lives are replete with decisions. Whereas most of these decisions are irreversible (e.g., deciding to sell one’s car, to quit a job, or to remove a birthmark from one’s face), other decisions allow for corrective action. Our research investigates why individuals tend to not use the opportunity to revise initial decisions and why they turn out less satisfied than decision-makers for whom the decision is immediately final. Moreover, research at the Uncertainty Lab has investigated the motivational consequences of decisional reversibility for tasks unrelated to the decision, further widening the scope of this line of research.

Key publications:

Bullens, L. & van Harreveld, F. Having second thoughts: The consequences of decision reversibility. Social Psychological and Personality Compass, in press.

Bullens, L., van Harreveld, F., Forster, J., & Higgins, E.T. (2014). How decision reversibility affects motivation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 835-849.

Bullens, L., van Harreveld, F., Forster, J., & van der Pligt, J. (2013). Reversible decisions: The grass isn’t merely greener on the other side; it’s also very brown over here. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 1093-1099.

Bullens, L., van Harreveld, F., & Forster, J.A. (2011). Keeping ones options open: The detrimental consequences of decision reversibility. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 800-805.