A preference is a technical term in psychology, economics and philosophy usually used in relation to choosing between alternatives: someone has a preference for A over B if they would choose A rather than B.
In psychology, preferences could be conceived of as an individual’s attitude towards a set of objects, typically reflected in an explicit decision-making process (Lichtenstein & Slovic, 2006). Alternatively, one could interpret the term “preference” to mean evaluative judgment in the sense of liking or disliking an object (e.g., Scherer, 2005) which is the most typical definition employed in psychology. However, it does not mean that a preference is necessarily stable over time. Preference can be notably modified by decision-making processes, such as choices (Brehm, 1956; Sharot, De Martino, & Dolan, 2009), even unconsciously (see Coppin, Delplanque, Cayeux, Porcherot, & Sander, 2010). Consequently, preference can be affected by a person's surroundings and upbringing in terms of geographical location, cultural background, religious beliefs, and education. These factors are found to affect preference as repeated exposure to a certain idea or concept correlates with a positive preference.
In economics and other social sciences, preference refers to the set of assumptions related to ordering some alternatives, based on the degree of happiness, satisfaction, gratification, enjoyment, or utility they provide, a process which results in an optimal "choice" (whether real or imagined). Although economists are usually not interested in choices or preferences in themselves, they are interested in the theory of choice because it serves as a background for empirical demand analysis.
Economists tend to presume that preferences reflect the person's will and hence should be highly respected. In effect, an economy that satisfies the preferences of the people best is considered a superior economy to one that satisfies fewer preferences. In contrast, sociologists argue that preferences are "doctored" by various marketing devices, especially persuasive ads. Hence, balancing respect for individual preferences and consensus for the common good is justified.
Brand preference is strongly linked to brand choice that can influence the consumer decision making and activate brand purchase. "Brand preferences can be defined as the subjective, conscious and behavioral tendencies which influence consumer's predisposition toward a brand." Understanding the brand preferences of consumers will dictate the most suitable and successful Marketing Strategies.
"Preference" may also refer to non-choices, such as genetic and biological explanations for one's preference. Sexual orientation, for example, is no longer considered a sexual preference by most individuals, but is debatable based on philosophical and/or scientific ideas.
- Preference-based planning (in artificial intelligence)
- Preference revelation
- Preferentialism, philosophical concept
- Pairwise comparison
- Brehm, J.W. (1956). Post-decision changes in desirability of choice alternatives. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 52, 384-389.
- Coppin, G., Delplanque, S., Cayeux, I., Porcherot, C., & Sander, D. (2010). I’m no longer torn after choice: How explicit choices can implicitly shape preferences for odors. Psychological Science, 21, 489-493.
- Lichtenstein, S., & Slovic, P. (2006). The construction of preference. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Scherer, K.R. (2005). What are emotions? And how can they be measured? Social Science Information, 44, 695-729.
- Sharot, T., De Martino, B., & Dolan, R.J. (2009). How choice reveals and shapes expected hedonic outcome. Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 3760-3765.
- Zajonc, Robert B.; Markus, Hazel (1982-09-01). "Affective and Cognitive Factors in Preferences". Journal of Consumer Research. 9 (2): 123–131. doi:10.1086/208905. ISSN 0093-5301.
- Amitai Etzioni. 2000. "Social Norms: Internalization, Persuasion, and History." Law & Society Review, Vol 34, No. 1 (2000), 157-178.
- Prasanna Mohan Raj and Ananth, "Brand Preferences Of Newspapers- Factor Analysis Approach", Research Journal of Economics and Business Studies", Vol.5,No: 11, September 2016
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- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on 'Preferences'
- Customer preference formation DOC (white paper from ICR)