Differentiating motivational and cognitive explanations for decision inertia

Dominik Jung, Edgar Erdfelder, Arndt Bröder, Verena Dorner

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Under specific conditions humans tend to repeat previous choices regardless of the outcome. This phenomenon is known as ‘decision inertia’. In most studies of decision inertia, the effect has been linked to motivational factors like consistency-seeking or indecisiveness. We argue that cognitive processes may play an even larger role in explaining why and when decision inertia occurs. Following this rationale, we investigate both motivational and cognitive antecedents of decision inertia using a belief-updating task. With respect to motivational determinants, our results suggest that decision inertia is driven by action-orientation and decision autonomy but not by preference for consistency or indecisiveness. Concerning cognitive antecedents, we found that individual differences in the evidence required to change a decision (evidence threshold) as well as capabilities in Bayesian probability updating affect decision accuracy in general, but are not linked to decision inertia specifically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30 - 44
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502050 Business informatics

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