The role of epistemic motivation in individuals' response to decision complexity

Adi Amit, Lilach Sagiv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Integrating findings on the effects of more alternatives with findings on the effects of more attributes, we offer a motivational decision-making model, suggesting that epistemic motivation moderates individuals' responses to complex information. Study 1 empirically investigated the shared essence of four conceptualizations of epistemic motivation, further distinguishing it from the maximizing/satisficing motivation. A series of experiments indicate that epistemic motivation moderates the effect of complex information on one's discomfort with a decision (Studies 2-4) and on the tendency to implement one's choice in action (Study 3). Taken together, our findings indicate that individuals with low epistemic motivation experience more discomfort and are less likely to implement their decision when faced with complex information whereas those high on epistemic motivation portray a weaker or even an opposite effect. The consistent findings across conceptualizations (dispositional Need-for-Cognitive-Closure and manipulated Openness vs. Conservation values) indicate the robustness of the findings and the important role of epistemic motivation in complex decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-117
Number of pages14
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the Recanati Fund of the School of Business Administration at the Hebrew University to the second author and by the Edward Hechtkopf and Solomon Family Fellowships to the first author. We thank Carsten De Dreu, Nir Halevy, Sonia Roccas, Sharon Arieli, Naomi Goldblum, Avihay Berlin and Barry Schwartz for their useful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. We thank Liat Cohen, Ofer Livne, Michal Eliakim, Akiva Miler and Zafrir Brachya, for their help in data collection.


  • Alternatives
  • Attributes
  • Choice overload
  • Decision making
  • Epistemic motivation
  • Information overload
  • Motivated decision processing
  • Need-for-Cognitive-Closure
  • Preferences
  • Values


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