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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2001 Sep;27(5):1250-60.

The emergence of coherence over the course of decision making.

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School of Law, University of Southern California, Los Angeles 90089-0071, USA.


Previous research has indicated that decision making is accompanied by an increase in the coherence of assessments of the factors related to the decision alternatives. In the present study, the authors investigated whether this coherence shift is obtained before people commit to a decision, and whether it is obtained in the course of a number of other processing tasks. College students were presented with a complex legal case involving multiple conflicting arguments. Participants rated agreement with the individual arguments in isolation before seeing the case and after processing it under various initial sets, including playing the role of a judge assigned to decide the case. Coherence shifts were observed when participants were instructed to delay making the decision (Experiment 1), to memorize the case (Experiment 2), and to comprehend the case (Experiment 3). The findings support the hypothesis that a coherence-generating mechanism operates in a variety of processing tasks, including decision making.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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