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Decision sidestepping: How the motivation for closure prompts individuals to bypass decision making.

Decision Making
Otto, A.S., Clarkson, J.J., & Kardes, F.R. (2016)
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(1), 1–16.

We all too often have to make decisions—from the mundane (e.g., what to eat for breakfast) to the complex (e.g., what to buy a loved one)—and yet there exists a multitude of strategies that allows us to make a decision. This work focuses on a subset of decision strategies that allows individuals to make decisions by bypassing the decision-making process—a phenomenon we term decision sidestepping. Critical to the present manuscript, however, we contend that decision sidestepping stems from the motivation to achieve closure. We link this proposition back to the fundamental nature of closure and how those seeking closure are highly bothered by decision making. As such, we argue that the motivation to achieve closure prompts a reliance on sidestepping strategies (e.g., default bias, choice delegation, status quo bias, inaction inertia, option fixation) to reduce the bothersome nature of decision making. In support of this framework, five experiments demonstrate that (a) those seeking closure are more likely to engage in decision sidestepping, (b) the effect of closure on sidestepping stems from the bothersome nature of decision making, and (c) the reliance on sidestepping results in downstream consequences for subsequent choice. Taken together, these findings offer unique insight into the cognitive motivations stimulating a reliance on decision sidestepping and thus a novel framework by which to understand how individuals make decisions while bypassing the decision-making process.