Participants were given a choice between two multi-attribute alternatives (job offers). Preferences for the attributes were measured before, during, and after the choices were made. We found that over the course of decision making, the preferences shifted to cohere with the choice: The attributes of the option that was eventually chosen came to be rated more favorably than they had been rated initially, while the attributes of the rejected option received lower preference ratings than before. These coherence shifts were triggered by a single attribute that decisively favored one option (Experiment 1), and occurred spontaneously in the absence of a decisive attribute (Experiment 2). The coherence shift preceded commitment to choice. These findings favor constraint-satisfaction models of decision making.
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