‘Short-Cuts’ in Decision Making
: Heuristic Strategies and Decision Avoidance

  • Qing Han

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis aimed to investigate two types of decision short-cut, decision avoidance (DA) and heuristic which can save cognitive effort by (partially) skipping or simplifying the decision making process. Firstly, I conducted two studies focusing on whether DA strategies share common antecedents and emotional consequences based on the rational-emotional model. The meta-analysis in chapter 2 indicated that DA strategies could reduce experienced regret. However, since most of the eligible studies were focused on status quo preservation, the identified relationship was primarily driven by this strategy. The results of chapter 3 showed that high personal fear of invalidity (PFI) could promote the use of most DA strategies. This finding offers evidence that DA strategies deserve to be classified as a group of strategies. Then, I explored how changes in the decision environment influence the use of heuristic. The results of chapter 4 suggested that people have a tendency to maintain their decision strategy when the information provision structure changes. However, this inertia effect was weakened when maintaining a strategy requires more cognitive effort in the new decision environment, where people tend to adopt more heuristic strategies. Finally, results of chapter 5 showed that high PFI promotes systematic strategy instead of heuristic. Combining the results of chapter 3 and chapter 5, it could be found that PFI drives people towards and away from using decision short-cuts. High PFI promotes DA in the presence of a choice precedent. However, when the choice precedent or opportunity to evade responsibility is not available, PFI drives people away from using heuristic to achieve a higher expected decision accuracy. These findings imply that the internal drivers for adopting these two types of decision short-cuts are different.
Date of Award25 Jan 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorCasimir J H Ludwig (Supervisor) & Susanne Quadflieg (Supervisor)

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