Customer Needs and Solutions

, Volume 5, Issue 1–2, pp 3–14 | Cite as

How Context Affects Choice

  • Raphael ThomadsenEmail author
  • Robert P. Rooderkerk
  • On Amir
  • Neeraj Arora
  • Bryan Bollinger
  • Karsten Hansen
  • Leslie John
  • Wendy Liu
  • Aner Sela
  • Vishal Singh
  • K. Sudhir
  • Wendy Wood
Research Article


Due to its origins in the literature on judgment and decision-making, context effects in marketing are construed exclusively in terms of how choices deviate from utility maximization principles as a function of how choices are presented (e.g., framing, sequence, composition). This limits our understanding of a range of other relevant context effects on choice. This paper broadens the scope of context effects to include social (e.g., with friends or family) and situational factors (e.g., location (home/store), time, weather).We define contexts as any factor that has the potential to shift the choice outcomes by altering the process by which the decision is made. We use this lens to integrate the psychology literature on habitual choice, System I and II decision-making, and a recent stream of empirical work that involves social and situational effects into the scope of context effects. We distinguish between exogenous and endogenous context effects, based on whether the decision-maker chooses the context. We then discuss issues of empirically identifying context effects when using either experimentally generated data or naturally occurring secondary data. We conclude with a discussion of trends and opportunities for new research on context effects.


Context dependence Choice Behavioral decision-making Consumer behavior Moderating variables Information processing 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017
corrected publication December/2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raphael Thomadsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert P. Rooderkerk
    • 2
  • On Amir
    • 3
  • Neeraj Arora
    • 4
  • Bryan Bollinger
    • 5
  • Karsten Hansen
    • 3
  • Leslie John
    • 6
  • Wendy Liu
    • 3
  • Aner Sela
    • 7
  • Vishal Singh
    • 8
  • K. Sudhir
    • 9
  • Wendy Wood
    • 10
  1. 1.Olin Business SchoolWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Rotterdam School of ManagementErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Rady School of ManagementUC San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  4. 4.Wisconsin School of BusinessUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  5. 5.Fuqua School of BusinessDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  6. 6.Harvard Business SchoolBostonUSA
  7. 7.Warrington College of BusinessUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  8. 8.Leonard N. Stern School of BusinessNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  9. 9.Yale School of ManagementYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  10. 10.Department of Psychology and Marshall School of BusinessUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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