The Influence of Decision Aids on Choice Strategies: An Experimental Analysis of the Role of Cognitive Effort


Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

October 1994, vol. 60, n°1, pp.36-74

Departments: Information Systems and Operations Management

This paper examines the role of computer-based decision aids in reducing cognitive effort and therefore influencing strategy selection. It extends and complements the works reported in the behavioral decision theory literature on the role of effort and accuracy in choice tasks. The central proposition of this paper is that specific features can be incorporated within a set of decision aids that will alter the effort required to implement a particular choice strategy relative to other strategies, and that this will influence strategy selection by the decision maker. In a laboratory experiment, using a repeated measures design, 48 subjects performed a preferential choice task using different decision aids. Subjects were given different levels of support to reduce the cognitive effort associated with different preferential choice strategies. In particular, the decision aids provided varying levels of support for the processing associated with either elimination by aspects or additive difference strategies. The study examined how information processing strategies were influenced by the decision aids. The results show that decision aids which reduce the effort associated with the elimination by aspects strategy induce behaviors associated with elimination by aspects. More importantly, there was an interaction effect caused by the distinct behavior of the group which was provided support for additive difference but not for elimination by aspects. This group processed the information about available choices in a way that is consistent with an additive difference strategy. These findings indicate that a decision aid can induce additive processing by altering the relative effort requirements of different choice strategies