11:00 Control and information: What is the value of knowing an undesirable, unavoidable future?
Simona Botti, London Business School
Co-Authors: Nazli Gurdamar Okütur and Selin Göksel (London Business School), Sheena Iyengar (Columbia University)
Individuals have a fundamental psychological need for personal control and strive to reinstate it when it is threatened. In this research project, we find that when consumers are confronted with the possibility of an undesirable, unavoidable event yet to come (e.g. a genetic disease, an aversive task), they have a preference to know about whether that event will occur or not mainly as a way to feel in control of its future consequences. However, acquiring such knowledge does not improve, and sometimes actually hurt, their well-being and sense of control before and after the event has materialized; moreover, the longer (the more) they have known, the more negative their well-being and sense of control becomes. We study this phenomenon with hypothetical scenarios, real data from individuals who tested for a genetic disease (Huntington’s Disease), and lab studies involving consequential decisions.