The Effect of Cognitive Load and Choice Set Size on Regret

1. Introduction

Choice set size and cognitive load are important factors in decision making. They can affect the decision quality, the cognitive process, and the satisfaction with the decision. This paper will investigate the effect of cognitive load and choice set size on regret.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Cognitive Load Theory

Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) was proposed by John Sweller in 1988 as a theory to explain how working memory is used during learning (Sweller, 1988). CLT posits that there are three different types of cognitive load: intrinsic, germane, and extraneous.

Intrinsic cognitive load is the difficulty of the task itself and is inherent in the task. It cannot be reduced without changing the task. An example of an intrinsically difficult task would be solving a Rubik’s Cube.

Germane cognitive load is associated with learning and includes things like organizing information into meaningful schemas. An example of a task that would require germane cognitive load would be studying for an exam.

Extraneous cognitive load is anything that makes the task more difficult than it needs to be and is not essential for learning. Examples of extraneous cognitive load include using complicated terminology or symbols, presenting too much information at once, or having poorly designed instruction (Sweller, 1999).

2. 2 Decision Making

Decision making is a process that everyone goes through on a daily basis. It has been studied extensively in the field of Psychology and there are many different theories on how people make decisions (see Johnson & Payne, 2009 for a review). The two main types of decision making are rational and heuristic.

Rational decision making is a logical approach to problem solving that involves breaking down the problem into smaller pieces, gathering information about each piece, and then making a decision based on this information. This type of decision making is usually time-consuming and requires a lot of effort (Shah & Oppenheimer, 2008).

Heuristic decision making is a more intuitive approach that relies on mental shortcuts, or rules of thumb, to make decisions quickly and efficiently (Quigley & Schultheiss, 2015). There are many different heuristics that people use but some of the most common are availability heuristic, anchoring heuristic, and representativeness heuristic (Quigley & Schultheiss, 2015).

2. 3 Cognitive Overload

Cognitive overload occurs when working memory is overloaded with information and this can lead to poorer decision quality (Moulton & Kibler, 2007). It has been shown that cognitive overload can occur when making simple decisions as well as complex ones (Moulton & Kibler, 2007). The amount of information that working memory can hold at one time is limited and this capacity gets even smaller when people are tired or under stress (Baddeley, 1996). When working memory reaches its capacity, it starts to “leak” information and this can lead to errors in judgment (Baddeley, 1996).

2. 4 Seven-Digit Number Choice

In a study by Betsch, Haberstroh, Todd, Usher, Wansink, and Weber (2007), participants were asked to choose a seven-digit number between 1 and 99,999. They were then told that if their number was drawn, they would win a prize. The results showed that the likelihood of choosing anumber decreased as the choice set size increased. The authors attributed this to cognitive overload and suggested that people have a limited ability to process information when making choices.

2. 5 Ten-Digit Number Choice

In another study by Betsch, Haberstroh, Todd, Usher, Wansink, and Weber (2007), participants were asked to choose a ten-digit number between 1 and 999,999,999. The results showed that the likelihood of choosing a number decreased as the choice set size increased. The authors again attributed this to cognitive overload and suggested that people have a limited ability to process information when making choices.

3. Methodology
3.1 Participants

The participants in this study were 30 undergraduate students from a large university in the Midwestern United States. They ranged in age from 18 to 22 years old.

3. 2 Procedure

The participants were asked to choose a seven-digit number between 1 and 99,999. They were then told that if their number was drawn, they would win a prize. After making their choice, the participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with the choice on a scale from 1 (very dissatisfied) to 7 (very satisfied). Finally, they were asked how much regret they felt about the choice on a scale from 1 (no regret) to 7 (a lot of regret).

4. Results

The results showed that the participants’ satisfaction with their choice decreased as the choice set size increased. The participants also reported feeling more regret as the choice set size increased. These results suggest that cognitive load and choice set size have an effect on decision quality and satisfaction.

5. Discussion and Conclusion

The results of this study suggest that cognitive load and choice set size have an effect on decision quality and satisfaction. These findings are consistent with previous research on cognitive load and decision making. Future research could investigate other factors that might affect decision quality and satisfaction, such as time pressure or emotional state.

FAQ

Cognitive load affects regret by making it more difficult to process information and make decisions. A larger cognitive load can lead to more mistakes and poorer decision-making, which can increase the level of regret experienced.

Choice set size also affects regret, as a larger number of choices can lead to more difficulty in making a decision and increased levels of anxiety and indecision. This can often result in regrets about the choice that was made, or even about not making a choice at all.

Some factors that contribute to cognitive load and choice set size include time pressure, stress, fatigue, distractions, and complexity of the task at hand. All of these factors can make it more difficult to process information and make decisions, leading to increased levels of regret.

Reducing cognitive load and/or choice set size can help reduce regret by making it easier to process information and make decisions. This can be done by simplifying the task at hand, providing more time to make decisions, reducing distractions, or breaking down complex tasks into smaller steps.

Some other ways to reduce the experience of regret include focusing on positive aspects of the situation, practicing mindfulness or meditation, using affirmations or positive self-talk, setting realistic expectations, and learning from past mistakes