Thinking About Decisions: An Integrative Approach Of Person And Task Factors

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
David L. Dickinson Ph.D., Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: Decisions vary. They may vary in both content and complexity. People also vary. An important way that people vary is how much they think. Some prior research investigating thinking and decision making largely conflicts with most traditional decision theories. For example, if considering an array of products to choose from, thinking more about the alternative's attributes should lead to a better decision. However, some research indicates that thinking more may also lead to focusing on irrelevant aspects of the decision and a less optimal outcome. We propose that this conflict in the literature exists because of a failure to consider the interaction between the individual and the decision task. To test this, we used separate methodologies that enhance or attenuate a person's thinking. In Study 1, we selected people who were especially high or low in need for cognition and had them complete a robust decision-making inventory, which included both complex and simple tasks. In Study 2, we manipulated participant's level of glucose, which acts as the brain's fuel to enhance or attenuate thinking ability. Both studies provide insight for understanding our central tenant that more thought leads to better decisions in complex tasks but does not influence simple decisions. These findings show how the individual's thinking can interact with the constructive elements of the task to shape decision choice.

Additional Information

McElroy T, Dickinson DL, Levin IP. Thinking about decisions: An integrative approach of person and task factors. J Behav Dec Making. 2020; 1–18. Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2020
competence, complex decisions, decision making, glucose, need for cognition, thinking

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