Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

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Choosing what to choose from: Preference for inclusion over exclusion when constructing consideration sets from large choice sets

Abstract Decision making is a two‐stage process, consisting of, first, consideration set construction and then final choice. Decision makers can form a consideration set from a choice set using one of two strategies: including the options they wish to further consider or excluding those they do not wish to further consider. The authors propose that decision makers have a relative preference for an inclusion (vs. exclusion) strategy when choosing from large choice sets and that this preference is driven primarily by a lay belief that inclusion requires less effort than exclusion, particularly in large choice sets. Study 1 demonstrates that decision makers prefer using an inclusion (vs. exclusion) strategy when faced with large choice sets. Study 2 replicates the effect of choice set size on preference for consideration set construction strategy and demonstrates that the belief that exclusion is more effortful mediates the relative preference for inclusion in large choice sets. Studies 3 and 4 further support the importance of perceived effort, demonstrating a greater preference for inclusion in large choice sets when decision makers are primed to think about effort (vs. accuracy; Study 3) and when the choice set is perceived as requiring more effort because of more information being presented about each alternative (vs. more alternatives in the choice set; Study 4). Finally, Study 5 manipulates consideration set construction strategy, showing that using inclusion (vs. exclusion) in large choice sets leads to smaller consideration sets, greater confidence in the decision process, and a higher quality consideration set.

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