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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1997 Mar;23(2):384-405.

Choice processing in emotionally difficult decisions.

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Marketing Department, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-6371, USA.


Choice conflicts between one's important values may cause negative emotion. This article extends the standard effort-accuracy approach to explaining task influences on decision processing by arguing that coping goals will interact with effort minimization and accuracy maximization goals for negatively emotion-laden decision tasks. These coping goals may involve both a desire to process in a thorough, accurate manner and a desire to avoid particularly distressing aspects of processing. On the basis of this extended framework, the authors hypothesized and found in 3 experiments that decision processing under increasing negative emotion both becomes more extensive and proceeds more by focusing on one attribute at a time. In particular, increased negative emotion leads to more attribute-based processing at the beginning of the decision process. The results are inconsistent with views that negative emotion acts only as an incentive or only as a source of decision complexity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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