Inducing Compensatory Information Processing through Decision Aids that Facilitate Effort Reduction: An Experimental Assessment


Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

January-March 2000, vol. 13, n°1, pp.91-106

Keywords: decision support, decision strategy, effort-accuracy trade-offs

This paper examines the role of computer-based decision aids in reducing cognitive effort and therefore influencing strategy selection. It extends and complements the work reported in the behavioral decision theory literature on the role of effort and accuracy in choice tasks. The central proposition of the research is that if a decision aid makes a strategy that should lead to a more accurate outcome at least as easy to employ as a simpler, but less accurate, heuristic, then the use of a decision aid should induce that more accurate strategy and as a consequence improve decision quality. Otherwise, a decision aid may only influence decision-making efficiency. This occurs because decision makers use a decision aid in such a way as to minimize their overall level of effort expenditure. Results from a laboratory experiment support this proposition. When a more accurate normative strategy is made less effortful to use, it is used. This result is consistent with the findings of our prior studies, but more clearly demonstrates that decision aids can induce the use of normatively oriented strategies. The key to inducing these strategies is to make the normative strategy easier to execute than competing alternative strategies