Tragic Choices: Autonomy and Emotional Responses to Medical Decisions

Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 337-352, 2009

16 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2011

See all articles by Simona Botti

Simona Botti

London Business School

Sheena S. Iyengar

Columbia Business School - Management Division

Date Written: October 2009

Abstract

We investigate how making highly consequential, highly undesirable decisions affects emotions and preference for autonomy. We examine individuals facing real or hypothetical decisions to discontinue their infants' life support who either choose personally or have physicians choose for them. Findings from a multidisciplinary approach consisting of a qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews and three laboratory studies reveal that perceived personal causality for making tragic decisions generates more negative feelings than having the same choices externally made. Tragic decisions also undermine coping abilities, weakening the desire for autonomy. Consequently, participants disliked making decisions but also resented relinquishing their option to choose.

Suggested Citation

Botti, Simona and Sethi-Iyengar, Sheena S., Tragic Choices: Autonomy and Emotional Responses to Medical Decisions (October 2009). Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 337-352, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1951205

Simona Botti

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
London, London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom
442070008646 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.london.edu

Sheena S. Sethi-Iyengar (Contact Author)

Columbia Business School - Management Division ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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