Differences Attract: An Experimental Study of Focusing in Economic Choice

Ola Andersson, Jim Ingebretsen Carlson, Erik Wengström*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Several behavioural models of choice assume that decision makers place more weight on attributes where options differ more, an assumption we test in a set of experiments. We find that subjects are more likely to choose an option when we add options increasing the maximal difference in the original option’s strongest attribute, suggesting that the decision maker’s focus is drawn to attributes with a high spread. Additional experiments corroborate this finding. Still, we document that the focusing effect diminishes when options are presented using numbers instead of graphs or when subjects are forced to wait before submitting their answers.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberueab032
Peer-reviewed scientific journalThe Economic Journal
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 16.04.2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 511 Economics
  • individual decision making
  • focus
  • attention
  • salience
  • decoy
  • experiments


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