The Neglect of Prescreening Information



In this paper we find that the seeds of lower decision quality might be inherent in the act of screening itself. Specifically, we find that the task of screening alternatives (e.g., during consideration set formation) induces a non normative tendency to “discard” the screening information in subsequent stages of decision making. We conduct several studies that show that information used to screen alternatives becomes less important relative to information acquired latter in the search process simply because it was used to screen. Experiment 1 shows that the tendency to deemphasize prescreening information leads to systematically different choices for decision makers who screen alternatives, in comparison to decision makers who do not screen alternatives. Additional studies show that screening encourages decision makers to place an inordinate amount of emphasis on the postscreening information (experiment 2). Prescreening information is deemphasized owing to the perceptual categorization that occurs when people create a consideration set of retained alternatives (experiments 3 and 4). Together, the results show that a brand’s strength of consideration (i.e., how highly an option ranks on screening criteria) may have little influence on the likelihood it is chosen in a post-screening choice process.
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Dr. B. Donkers