The need to have an opinion as a driver of consumer choice

Michail D. Kokkoris*, Ulrich Kühnen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This research proposes that the need to have an opinion can make consumers choose less preferred options. We review literature from several disciplines indicating that holding opinions is an automatic human response associated with adaptive psychological benefits. We then theorize that when this need is activated in any domain, it can have carry-over effects even in unrelated domains by inducing an inquisitive choice mindset and expanding consumers' consideration sets. This proposition rests on the assumption that less preferred options offer a higher experience utility, which can better satisfy the need to form opinions on a wider range of topics. Three experiments with diverse consumer and non-consumer choices as well as various operationalizations and methodologies provide empirical evidence that priming the need to have an opinion makes consumers less likely to make choices based on their stated preferences. These results suggest that the need to have an opinion can affect consumer decision-making in predictable and systematic ways by encouraging preference-inconsistent choices. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-102
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Consumer Behaviour
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


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