Binary choice under instructions to select versus reject

Margaret G. Meloy, J. Edward Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Two experiments examine differences in binary choice under select versus reject instructions. Three aspects of the choice process are examined: commitment to the chosen alternative, absolute magnitude of attribute evaluations, and information distortion during the choice process. Although the findings support previously hypothesized causes (Study 1), these results are reversed when the decision alternatives are uniformly negative (Study 2a). Accompanying verbal protocols (Study 2b) provide additional insights into the underlying decision process. The results consistently support a compatibility effect. Whenever there is a match between the valences of the alternatives and of the decision strategy, namely selecting a positive alternative or rejecting a negative one, there is greater accentuation of attribute differences, higher certainty in the final choice, and more information distortion. Metaphorically, the choice process seems to flow more smoothly in the compatible conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-128
Number of pages15
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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