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.
Preference can also be used in insolvency terms.
In psychology, preferences refer to an individual’s attitude towards a set of objects, typically reflected in an explicit decision-making process (Lichtenstein & Slovic, 2006). The term is also used 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.
"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.
In Insolvency, the term can be used to describe when a company pays a specific creditor or group of creditors. From doing this, that creditor(s) is made better off, than other creditors. After paying the 'preferred creditor', the company seeks to go into a formal insolvency like an administration or liquidation. There must be a desire to make the creditor better off, for them to be a preference. If the preference is proven, legal action can occur. It is a wrongful act of trading. Disqualification is a risk. 
- Preference-based planning (in artificial intelligence)
- Preference revelation
- 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.
|Look up prefer in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on 'Preferences'
- Customer preference formation DOC (white paper from International Communications Research)