How preference change induced by mere action versus inaction persists over time


Understanding how sustainable preference change can be achieved is of both scientific and practical importance. Recent work shows that merely responding or not responding to objects during go/no-go training can influence preferences for these objects right after the training, when people choose with a time limit. Here we examined whether and how such immediate preference change in fast choices can affect choices without time limit one week later. In two preregistered experiments, participants responded to go food items and withheld responses toward no-go food items during a go/no-go training. Immediately after the training, they made consumption choices for half of the items (with a time limit in Experiment 1; without time limit in Experiment 2). One week later, participants chose again (without time limit in both experiments). Half of the choices had been presented immediately after the training (repeated choices), while the other half had not (new choices). Participants preferred go over no-go items both immediately after the training and one week later. Furthermore, the effect was observed for both repeated and new choices after one week, revealing a direct effect of mere (non)responses on preferences one week later. Exploratory analyses revealed that the effect after one week is related to the memory of stimulus-response contingencies immediately after the training, and this memory is impaired by making choices. These findings show mere action versus inaction can directly induce preference change that lasts for at least one week, and memory of stimulus-response contingencies may play a crucial role in this effect.

Judgment and Decision Making