Task complexity and contingent processing in decision making: An information search and protocol analysis

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Two process tracing techniques, explicit information search and verbal protocols, were used to examine the information processing strategies subjects use in reaching a decision. Subjects indicated preferences among apartments. The number of alternatives available and number of dimensions of information available was varied across sets of apartments. When faced with a two alternative situation, the subjects employed search strategies consistent with a compensatory decision process. In contrast, when faced with a more complex (multialternative) decision task, the subjects employed decision strategies designed to eliminate some of the available alternatives as quickly as possible and on the basis of a limited amount of information search and evaluation. The results demonstrate that the information processing leading to choice will vary as a function of task complexity. An integration of research in decision behavior with the methodology and theory of more established areas of cognitive psychology, such as human problem solving, is advocated. © 1976.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Payne, JW

Published Date

  • January 1, 1976

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 16 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 366 - 387

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0030-5073

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/0030-5073(76)90022-2

Citation Source

  • Scopus