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Option generation in decision making: ideation beyond memory retrieval
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. University of Trieste, Italy.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2015 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 5, 1584Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

According to prescriptive decision theories, the generation of options for choice is a central aspect of decision making. A too narrow representation of the problem may indeed limit the opportunity to evaluate promising options. However, despite the theoretical and applied significance of this topic, the cognitive processes underlying option generation are still unclear. In particular, while a cued recall account of option generation emphasizes the role of memory and executive control, other theoretical proposals stress the importance of ideation processes based on various search and thinking processes. Unfortunately, relevant behavioral evidence on the cognitive processes underlying option generation is scattered and inconclusive. In order to reach a better understanding, we carried out an individual-differences study employing a wide array of cognitive predictors, including measures of episodic memory, semantic memory, cognitive control, and ideation fluency. The criterion tasks consisted of three different poorly-structured decision-making scenarios, and the participants were asked to generate options to solve these problems. The main criterion variable of the study was the number of valid options generated, but also the diversity and the quality of generated options were examined. The results showed that option generation fluency and diversity in the context of ill-structured decision making are supported by ideation ability even after taking into account the effects of individual differences in several other aspects of cognitive functioning. Thus, ideation processes, possibly supported by search and thinking processes, seem to contribute to option generation beyond basic associative memory retrieval. The findings of the study also indicate that generating more options may have multifaceted consequences for choice, increasing the quality of the best option generated but decreasing the mean quality of the options in the generated set.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 5, 1584
Keyword [en]
option generation, decision structuring, decision making, memory, ideation
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-114233DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01584ISI: 000348191800001OAI: diva2:798334


Available from: 2015-03-26 Created: 2015-02-25 Last updated: 2015-03-26Bibliographically approved

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