The Influence of Decision Aids on Choice Strategies Under Conditions of High Cognitive Load


IEEE Transaction on Systems, Man and Cybernetics - Part A: Systems and Humans

April 1994, vol. 24, n°4, pp.537-547

Departments: Information Systems and Operations Management, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Concerns the role of effort and accuracy in choice tasks. The paper examines the role of computer-based decision aids in reducing cognitive effort where the decision maker experiences heavy information load. It is argued that specific features can be incorporated within a set of aids that alter the effort required to implement a particular strategy relative to other strategies, and that this influences strategy selection. Subjects were given aids to reduce cognitive effort associated with preferential choice strategies. In particular, the aids provided varying levels of support for the processing associated with either elimination by aspects (EBA) or additive difference (AD) strategies. The study examined changes in operators which represent the subcomponents or building blocks of the strategies. A repeated measures design was utilized whereby 32 subjects performed a 30 alternative apartment selection task over two trials. Analysis of the data was based on the coding of concurrent verbal protocols which described the subjects' problem solving strategies. The results show that aids which reduce the effort associated with the EBA strategy induce behaviors associated with EBA. More importantly, there was an interaction effect caused by the behavior of subjects provided with support for an AD but not for an elimination by aspects strategy. These subjects employed more operations which are unique to the AD strategy. These results are consistent with earlier studies in indicating that decision makers adapt to the aids available to them so as to maintain low overall levels of effort expenditure. They further indicate that aids can be designed to overcome constraining task limitations