Similarity and alignment in choice

Arthur B. Markman*, Douglas L. Medin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Research in decision making often assumes that corresponding dimensions or features of choices are compared. At the same time, recent models of similarity comparison stress the importance of structural alignment and associated inference processes. The present studies integrate these perspectives by examining feature listings and choices for pairs of video games varying in their comparability. In the first study, one group of participants simply compared pairs of games and listed commonalities and differences. Another group made selections between games and provided justifications for their decisions. We observed close correspondences between justifications and feature listings across wide variation in comparability. In addition, the justifications systematically favored comparable over noncomparable properties. Features also seemed to be created or inferred to promote alignability. The second study manipulated the comparability of individual properties. Here, justifications were more likely to include a property when it was comparable than when it was noncomparable. These observations suggest a constructive alignment process common to similarity and choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-130
Number of pages14
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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