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The Influence of Positive Affect on Decision-Making Strategy

Published Online:

This study investigated the influence of a positive feeling state on the decision-making process involved in choosing one alternative from among a group of items. Subjects were asked to select one of six fictitious cars, differing along several dimensions, for purchase. Persons who had been made to feel good by receiving feedback that they had succeeded on a prior task of perceptual-motor skills chose the same alternatives as did control subjects, but made their decisions more quickly. Positive-affect subjects were less likely than were control subjects to review information they had already looked at, and were more likely to ignore information considered unimportant. Analysis of subjects' protocols indicates that the groups differed in the strategies they used for reaching decisions. The positive-affect subjects were likely to use the strategy of “elimination by aspects” (eliminating from further consideration alternatives that did not meet a criterion on a selected important dimension). The effect of positive affect upon decision making in this task is interpreted as an increase in efficiency.