Tag Archives: rule-based decision

Are fresh fish better than canned fish?

I love canned sardines. Whenever I visit different cities, I buy a dozen of canned fish on the way back home. I was excited to find Annam Gourmet at Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam because it has a wide variety of canned fish, along with fresh fish.

Canned fish are fish which have been processed, sealed in an airtight container such as a sealed tin can, and subjected to heat. Canning is a method of preserving food, and provides a typical shelf life ranging from one to five years.

Some say I am obsessed with canned fish. Others suggest me to avoid them. I have long wondered whether canned fish are bad for my health and whether over-consuming canned fish harm my health. Recently, I met an article released from Consumer Reports that canned fish are as healthy for us as fresh fish, particularly for sardines and salmon. For canned tuna, however, we should be cautious about mercury.

Thankfully, my love for canned sardines survives. However, it is difficult to correct a belief that canned fish are dangerous. Updating our belief system is truly challenging.

Amir, O., & Ariely, D. (2007). Decisions by Rules: The Case of Unwillingness to Pay for Beneficial Delays. Journal of Marketing Research, 44(1), 142–152.

Since the emergence of neoclassical economics, individual decision making has been viewed largely from an outcome-maximizing perspective. Building on previous work, the authors suggest that when people make payment decisions, they consider not only their preferences for different alternatives but also guiding principles and behavioral rules. The authors describe and test two characteristics pertaining to one specific rule that dictates that consumers should not pay for delays, even if they are beneficial: rule invocation and rule override. The results show that money can function as the invoking cue for this rule, that the reliance on this rule can undermine utility maximization, and that this rule may be used as a first response to the decision problem but can be overridden. The article concludes with a discussion of more general applications of such rules, which may explain some of the seemingly systematic inconsistencies in the ways consumers behave.