Selection of strategies for narrowing choice options: Antecedents and consequences

Daniel Heller, Irwin P. Levin*, Martin Goransson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study investigates the antecedents (task and decision maker characteristics) and consequences (set size and decision quality) of prescreening strategy selection. In Experiment 1 we investigated which strategy, inclusion or exclusion, is more natural for narrowing choices in tasks with a single correct answer; about 70% of the participants selected exclusion. Experiment 2 directly contrasted correct answer tasks with personal judgment tasks, using the same foils for the two tasks. Participants were more likely to use exclusion for items with a correct answer than for personal judgments. In Experiment 3, participants could choose different strategies for different items and rated the difficulty of each item. The greater the perceived difficulty of an item, the more likely participants were to choose an exclusion strategy. In all three experiments exclusion led to larger set sizes, across task type and experimental design. There were no differences in decision quality as a function of strategy selection after correcting for set size. Individual differences based on personality inventories were not found to be good predictors of strategy selection, but had moderate effects on set size for personal judgment tasks. Results are discussed in terms of a status quo bias for adding or deleting options from an initial reference frame.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1194-1213
Number of pages20
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume89
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Inclusion/exclusion
  • Item difficulty
  • Multiple-choice items
  • Prescreening

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