Scientific article
Open access

When Flexibility Is Stable: Implicit Long-Term Shaping of Olfactory Preferences

Published inPloS one, vol. 7, no. 6, e37857
Publication date2012

Preferences are traditionally assumed to be stable. However, empirical evidence such as preference modulation following choices calls this assumption into question. The evolution of such postchoice preference over long time spans, even when choices have been explicitly forgotten, has so far not been studied. In two experiments, we investigated this question by using a variant of the free choice paradigm: In a first session, participants evaluated the pleasantness of a number of odors. We then formed pairs of similarly rated odors, and asked participants to choose their favorite, for each pair. Participants were then presented with all odors again, and asked for another pleasantness rating. In a second session 1 week later, a third pleasantness rating was obtained, and participants were again asked to choose between the same options. Results suggested postchoice preference modulation immediately and 1 week after choice for both chosen and rejected options, even when choices were not explicitly remembered. A third experiment, using another paradigm, confirmed that choice can have a modulatory impact on preferences, and that this modulation can be long-lasting. Taken together, these findings suggest that although preferences appear to be flexible because they are modulated by choices, this modulation also appears to be stable over time and even without explicit recollection of the choice. These results bring a new argument to the idea that postchoice preference modulation could rely on implicit mechanisms, and are consistent with the recent proposal that cognitive dissonance reduction could to some extent be implicit.

  • Choice
  • Cognitive dissonance reduction
  • Decision making
  • Olfaction
  • Preference
Citation (ISO format)
COPPIN, Géraldine et al. When Flexibility Is Stable: Implicit Long-Term Shaping of Olfactory Preferences. In: PloS one, 2012, vol. 7, n° 6, p. e37857. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037857
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1932-6203

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