Nuanced Effects of Decision Effort on Decision Confidence in Matters of Quality versus Matters of Taste

  • Author / Creator
    Ibrahim, Nahid
  • Consumers are largely considered cognitive misers because of their general aversion toward exerting mental effort in decision making. Prior research suggests that engaging in effortful decision tasks tends to undermine consumers’ decision confidence by increasing metacognitive difficulty. In the current research, we examine the circumstances under which the relationship among mental effort exertion, metacognitive difficulty, and decision confidence can be more nuanced. The key hypothesis is that whether exerting more mental effort in the decision process increases or decreases decision confidence is a function of consumers’ effort sensitivity in a particular domain and of the inferences that consumers draw from the decision effort they exert. We theorize that consumers’ effort sensitivity is higher in domains considered “matters of quality” than in domains considered “matters of taste” such that exerting more mental effort has a stronger positive impact on how difficult a decision is perceived to be in quality domains than in taste domains. This systematic difference in effort sensitivity between quality and taste domains differentially impacts two distinct aspects of decision confidence – preference clarity and preference correctness. Evidence from seven studies supports this theorizing, demonstrating that exerting more mental effort in quality domains reduces confidence by undermining preference correctness, whereas exerting more mental effort in taste domains increases confidence by enhancing preference clarity. In addition, disentangling instrumental and incidental experienced decision effort reveals that the former is the key driver of the predicted effects on decision confidence. Moreover, eye tracking evidence provides deeper insight into the information processing strategies (e.g., attribute-based vs. alternative-based processing) that consumers use when making decisions in quality and taste domains. Beyond advancing our conceptual understanding of the experience and consequences of decision effort, these findings have important practical implications for when firms and other choice architects should seek to promote versus discourage effort exertion in consumer decision making.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.