Psychological Distance Can Improve Decision Making Under Information Overload via Gist Memory

Making a decision can be especially difficult when it is based upon a large amount of information. A number of demonstrations in the literature suggest that decision making under information overload leads to suboptimal outcomes. In this article, we draw on construal level theory (Trope & Liberman, 2003) and fuzzy-trace theory (Brainerd & Reyna, 1993) to suggest that psychologically distancing oneself from the information can be beneficial to decision making under information overload. Specifically, we propose that distancing prompts organization of information in terms of its gist. Across 4 studies, we demonstrated that increasing spatial distance, temporal distance, and abstraction lead to better decision outcomes when decision makers were overloaded with many pieces of information per decision. Furthermore, we showed that the relationship between psychological distance and decision outcome is mediated by gist memory.

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APA-Format Citation

Fukukura, J., Ferguson, M. J., & Fujita, K. (2013). Psychological distance can improve decision making under information overload via gist memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142(3), 658.