People apparently have an innate preference towards choosing the option that comes first. This holds true even when applied to different areas of everyday life, such as selecting an item on menu, choosing a parking spot or a college, and so on.
A group of investigators at the University of California in Berkeley (UCB) Haas School of Business arrived at this conclusion after conducting a series of three studies on volunteers. The work revealed that participants nearly always preferred the first options.
This was found to be the case even when similar options were available on the second or third place on the list. Basically, the conclusion of the new study is that firsts have a privileged state. This is true even for the order in which people perform on TV shows, and for selecting an investment option.
A special case is represented by instances when these decisions need to be made quickly, or when people are not allowed too much time to think about their option, announced UCB assistant professor of management, Dana Carney, PhD.
The investigator says that, when people are forced to make a decision right away, they display an unconscious preference towards looking for the options that are presented first. They then immediately guide themselves based on those options, PsychCentral
In some cases, the UCB experts say, selecting the first option is a positive thing, such as when a company manager browses through available CVs. However, the same pattern appears to apply even to unwarranted and irrational situations, which is not all that good.
In a paper published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal PLoS ONE, experts at UCB and the Harvard University say that this predisposition can be explained in evolutionary terms.
When humans first started forming social groups, they also began displaying a preference for the first people they met, who they then tended to trust the most. Every other individual they met afterwards was treated with suspicion.
Another important aspect to note here is that we, as humans, bound most closely with the persons we first meet, which are our parents. Siblings and other relatives come next, then our friends, our extended circle of acquaintances and so on.