Toss and turn or toss and stop? A coin flip reduces the need for information in decision-making

Douneva, Maria and Jaffé, Mariela E. and Greifeneder, Rainer. (2019) Toss and turn or toss and stop? A coin flip reduces the need for information in decision-making. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 83. pp. 132-141.

[img] PDF - Accepted Version

Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/70698/

Downloads: Statistics Overview


When deciding between two options, settling can be difficult if one option is superior on one dimension but inferior on another. To arrive at a conclusion, people may gather further information, thereby running the risk of prolonging or blocking the decision-making process or even making suboptimal decisions. Here, we suggest that random decision aids may prove fruitful by reducing the need for further information. Five experiments (total N = 997) examined how information need is influenced after making a preliminary decision between two options and then receiving a suggestion from a random decision aid (a coin flip). Across studies, coin participants are less likely to request additional information (Study 1 and two follow-up studies, combined p = .021) and indicate a lower need for additional information (Study 2, p = .023, and Study 3, p = .001) compared to a control condition without a coin flip. Interestingly, participants do not necessarily adhere to the coin but stick to their preliminary decision as much as or even more than the control group, suggesting that the decision aid does not determine the decision outcome. This is true for hypothetical decisions between changing versus maintaining the status quo without an objectively correct solution (Studies 1, 1b, and 1c), for a decision between two options with an objectively correct solution (Study 2), and for a real monetary decision without an objectively correct solution (Study 3). Random decision aids may thus help to avoid decision blocks or the collection of too much information.
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Society & Choice > Sozialpsychologie (Greifeneder)
UniBasel Contributors:Douneva, Maria and Jaffé, Mariela Elena E. and Greifeneder, Rainer
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Related URLs:
Identification Number:
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:08 Jul 2021 03:10
Deposited On:03 Jun 2019 15:31

Repository Staff Only: item control page