Post Rationalizing: Justifying a choice after the fact.


This research has huge implications for business marketing. I’m certain the best marketing companies dig into this stuff.

Justifying a choice after the fact is nice and all & we’ve been told it happens, but how about a concrete, reproducible experiment?

Here it is:

Have volunteers play a little game. They are shown two pictures of the opposing sex that look similar. When asked which one they are more attracted to, they pick one.

Heres the kicker:

When the volunteer picks the picture on the right, the examiner gives them the OTHER picture. The one they DIDNT pick. When asked to justify their decision, they LOOK at the picture (that actually isn’t the one they picked) and start listing off things like: “I’m a photographer and I like how this one is framed”, “seems nicer” etc.

80% of participants don’t notice that the pictures have been switched. That is amazing!

You look at two pictures. You think one looks nicer than the other. You’ve decided on that and pick one face. The examiner gives you the picture you DIDNT pick, and when you look at that picture, you start listing off reasons why that picture is better than the other one.


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