Post-decision search in repeated and variable environments

When faced with a decision, people collect information to help them decide. Though it may seem unnecessary, people often continue to search for information about alternatives after they have already chosen an option, even if this choice is irreversible (e.g., checking out other cars after just purchasing one). While previous post-decision search studies focused on “one-shot” decisions and highlighted its irrational aspects, here we explore the possible benefits of post-decision search in the long run. We use a simple search task in which participants repeatedly decide whether to select the current alternative or continue to search for a better alternative. In a preliminary study we find that participants indeed conduct post-decision search even in unique environments, where information about forgone options cannot be used in future choices. In the main studies exposure to post-decision information was manipulated directly in unique environments, and was found to lead to better performance. The source of the observed improvement was further investigated with an explicit strategy elicitation methodology. We find that following exposure to post-decision information, people collect more data before generating thresholds. Thus, although post-decision search in unique environments might appear redundant, our results suggest it can help decision makers to modify their strategy and improve their future choices.

Publication Date:
Sep 01 2018
Date Submitted:
Jun 28 2019
Judgment and Decision Making
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 Record created 2019-06-28, last modified 2019-08-06

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