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Organ Behav Hum Decis Process. 2000 Jul;82(2):171-193.

Information Processing at Successive Stages of Decision Making: Need for Cognition and Inclusion-Exclusion Effects.

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University of Iowa


Levin and Jasper's (1995) phased narrowing technique for tracking changes in information usage across successive stages of the decision-making process was combined with Huneke's (1996) "pull-down menu" extension of Payne, Bettman, and Johnson's (1988) software package for generating measures of information processing. Because this technique provided considerable data for each individual subject at each stage, we were able to focus on individual differences in information processing across stages, most notably differences related to need for cognition (NC; Cacioppo & Petty, 1982). In a computerized information search and decision task, 60 college students were first asked to narrow their options for purchasing a notebook computer to form a consideration set and were then asked to make a final choice from this set. At the consideration set formation stage, half the subjects were instructed to adopt a mindset to include options while the other half were asked to exclude options. Especially in the inclusion condition where subjects showed greater narrowing of options, high NC subjects processed information in a more focused manner with greater depth and breadth than did low NC subjects, and the quality of their selections tended to be higher. There was no evidence of widespread shifts in strategy as individuals moved from set formation to final choice but, as a group, high NC subjects were more successful at adaptive decision making. Copyright 2000 Academic Press.

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