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Pseudo-Set Framing

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Pseudo-set framing--arbitrarily grouping items or tasks together as part of an apparent set--motivates people to reach perceived completion points. Pseudo-set framing changes gambling choices (Study 1), effort (Studies 2 and 3), giving behavior (Field Data and Study 4), and purchase decisions (Study 5). These effects persist in the absence of any reward, when a cost must be incurred, and after participants are explicitly informed of the arbitrariness of the set. Drawing on Gestalt psychology, we develop a conceptual account that predicts what will--and will not--act as a pseudo-set, and defines the psychological process through which these pseudo-sets affect behavior: over and above typical reference points, pseudo-set framing alters perceptions of (in)completeness, making intermediate progress seem less complete. In turn, these feelings of incompleteness motivate people to persist until the pseudo-set has been fulfilled.
Bibliographic citation: Barasz, Kate; John, Leslie K.; Keenan, Elizabeth A.; Norton, Michael I., "Pseudo-Set Framing", Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol. 146, No. 10, 2017, pp 1460 - 1477

Reference: 10.1037/xge0000337 (DOI)
Date: 10/2017
Author(s): Barasz, Kate; John, Leslie K.; Keenan, Elizabeth A.; Norton, Michael I.
Document type: Article in Journal (refereed)
Languages: English