Abstract

This research examines whether each of two different options of comparable overall quality will be perceived more positively when presented in isolation and evaluated separately (separate evaluation) or when juxtaposed and evaluated side by side (joint evaluation). Six studies, involving either judgment or choice as the dependent variable, reveal a general principle: If the focal options are already attractive (relative to their natural reference) in separate evaluation, then subjecting these options to joint evaluation will hurt their attractiveness. If the focal options are unattractive (relative to their reference) in separate evaluation, subjecting them to joint evaluation will enhance their attractiveness.

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