People can be surprisingly insensitive to quantities in valuation judgments—a phenomenon called scope insensitivity, which is generally attributed to the operation of affective processes in judgment. Building on research showing that affect is inherently a decision-making system of the present, we propose that scope insensitivity is more likely to be observed in decisions that are psychologically proximate to the immediate self. Consistent with this proposition, results from seven experiments (and two replications) show that scope insensitivity is more prevalent in decisions that are temporally proximate, both prospectively (near future vs. distant future) and retrospectively (recent past vs. distant past), and in decisions that are psychologically proximate in terms of social or physical distance. In addition to clarifying the boundaries of the scope-insensitivity phenomenon, these findings help refine our understanding of the affective system of judgment. Specifically, the findings suggest that the affective system of judgment and decision making is not just a system of the present, it is more generally a system of the immediate self. Any form of distance from the immediate self (in time, social relation, or physical space) tends to attenuate the engagement of the overall affective system.
Chang, Hannah, and Michel Tuan Pham. "Affective Boundaries of Scope Insensitivity." Journal of Consumer Research 45 (August 2018): 403-428.
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