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Methodological pitfalls of the Unconscious Thought paradigm

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  • Laurent Waroquier
  • David Marchiori
  • Olivier Klein
  • Axel Cleeremans
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    Abstract

    According to Unconscious Thought Theory (UTT: Dijksterhuis \& Nordgren, 2006), complex decisions are best made after a period of distraction assumed to elicit ``unconscious thought''. Over three studies, respectively offering a conceptual, an identical and a methodologically improved replication of Dijksterhuis et al.\ (2006), we reassessed UTT's predictions and dissected the decision task used to demonstrate these predictions. We failed to find any evidence for the benefits of unconscious decision-making. By contrast, we found some evidence that conscious deliberation can lead to better decisions. Further, we identified methodological weaknesses in the UTT decision task: (a) attributes weighting was neglected although attributes were seen as different in importance; (b) the material was not properly counterbalanced; and (c) there was some confusion in the experimental instructions. We propose methodological improvements that address these concerns.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Society for Judgment and Decision Making in its journal Judgment and Decision Making.

    Volume (Year): 4 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 7 (December)
    Pages: 601-610

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    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:4:y:2009:i:7:p:601-610

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    Related research

    Keywords: unconscious thought; conscious thought; decision-making.;

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    Cited by:
    1. Mark Nieuwenstein & Hedderik van Rijn, 2012. "The unconscious thought advantage: Further replication failures from a search for confirmatory evidence," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(6), pages 779-798, November.
    2. Huizenga, Hilde M. & Wetzels, Ruud & van Ravenzwaaij, Don & Wagenmakers, Eric-Jan, 2012. "Four empirical tests of Unconscious Thought Theory," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 117(2), pages 332-340.

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