Translated attributes as choice architecture: Aligning objectives and choices through decision signposts

Christoph Ungemach, Adrian R. Camilleri, Eric J. Johnson, Richard P. Larrick, Elke U. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Every attribute can be expressed in multiple ways. For example, car fuel economy can be expressed as fuel efficiency ("miles per gallon"), fuel cost in dollars, or tons of greenhouse gases emitted. Each expression, or "translation," highlights a different aspect of the same attribute. We describe a new mechanism whereby translated attributes can serve as decision "signposts" because they (1) activate otherwise dormant objectives, such as proenvironmental values and goals, and (2) direct the person toward the option that best achieves the activated objective. Across three experiments, we provide evidence for the occurrence of such signpost effects as well as the underlying psychological mechanism. We demonstrate that expressing an attribute such as fuel economy in terms of multiple translations can increase preference for the option that is better aligned with objectives congruent with this attribute (e.g., the more fuel-efficient car for those with proenvironmental attitudes), even when the new information is derivable from other known attributes. We discuss how using translated attributes appropriately can help align a person's choices with their personal objectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2445-2459
Number of pages15
JournalManagement Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


  • Applications
  • Behavioral decision making
  • Behavioral economics
  • Choice architecture
  • Consumer behavior
  • Government
  • Marketing
  • Proenvironmental behavior
  • Regulations
  • Segmentation
  • Theory
  • Translated attributes


Dive into the research topics of 'Translated attributes as choice architecture: Aligning objectives and choices through decision signposts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this