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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2011 Feb;140(1):51-62. doi: 10.1037/a0021595.

Threat and selective exposure: the moderating role of threat and decision context on confirmatory information search after decisions.

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Institute of Psychology, University of Graz, Graz, Austria.


Previous studies on the impact of perceived threat on confirmatory information search (selective exposure) in the context of decision making have yielded mixed results. Some studies have suggested that confirmatory information search is reduced, yet others have found contradictory effects. The present series of 5 studies consistently found that the crucial moderator for these inconsistent findings was whether the induced threat was contextually related to the subsequent decision and information search tasks. Contextual incongruence (e.g., an induction of terrorist threat followed by an economic decision case) results in reduced levels of confirmatory information search, whereas a congruent threat (e.g., an induction of terrorist threat followed by a decision case on terrorism) results in increased levels of confirmatory information search. Analyses of the underlying psychological processes revealed that decision-unrelated threat inductions increase decision makers' experienced decision uncertainty, thus reducing confirmatory information search.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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