The Paradoxical Nature of Electronic Decision Aids on Comparison-Shopping: The Experiments and Analysis
Consumers who use electronic decision aids such as comparison-shopping agents may be overwhelmed by the amount of choice information available to them, leading to an inability to choose or dissatisfaction with the ultimate choice, a state of "choice overload." Two experiments were designed to test the choice overload hypothesis. Eight choice tasks of different sizes were presented to subjects. By observing the decision quality, decision time, and decision confidence, we confirmed our hypothesis that choice overload exists when the comparison matrix exceeds a certain size (24 choices and 10 attributes for each choice in this research). Subjects were then given different combinations of decision-making tools (sorting and short-listing) and conditions (refreshing of information) to deal with the same choice task within the choice overload range obtained from the initial experiment. The use of both decision-making tools unexpectedly required more decision-making effort and resulted in less decision satisfaction than when only one decision-making tool was provided. We believe these findings are relevant to the future development of electronic decision aids. Further research is needed in this direction to extend our understanding of decision-making in electronic decision aids mediated environment.