Preferences Induced by Accessibility: Evidence from Priming

Petko Kusev, Paul van Schaik, Silvio Aldrovandi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In one experiment, we studied risky preferences using a semantic-priming paradigm where accessibility is manipulated independently of beliefs about the frequencies of risky events. We compared the risks taken for precautionary decisions primed by relevant information (enhancing accessibility to relevant events) with those taken for unprimed decisions and decisions primed by irrelevant information. We found that both priming and the subjective frequency of beliefs independently influence decision making. The results indicate that decisions are the result of an integration of influences derived from both the description (specified probability) and experience (accessibility to pre-experiment beliefs about event frequencies and temporarily activated relevant events) of risks. People's risk preferences are influenced by the accessibility of events in memory, such that increasing accessibility causes risk aversion to a potential loss to increase. Our research findings are not anticipated by the descriptive invariance axiom of expected utility theory, which states that equivalent formulations of a choice problem give rise to the same preference order.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-258
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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