Consideration Set, Uncertainty, Screening, Decision Accuracy


Consumers form consideration sets by screening from all available alternatives. Consumers typically utilize one of two types of screening strategies: an exclusion screening strategy wherein alternatives not worthy of further consideration are rejected or an inclusion strategy wherein worthy alternatives are selected for further evaluation. Extant literature has documented the important role played by screening strategies in decision making. However, there is very limited understanding of when and why consumers may employ one screening strategy over the other as well the impact of the screening strategy for decision accuracy. This dissertation attempts to study the antecedent and consequence of screening strategies. Essay 1 in this dissertation, investigates the role of consumers' perceived uncertainty on the choice of screening strategy. Four studies in this essay show that when consumers are highly uncertain they are more likely to choose exclusion screening strategy; whereas when they are less uncertain they are more likely to use inclusion screening. Mediation analyses in Studies 1 and 2 show that the choice of screening strategy is primarily driven by perceived accuracy of the strategy. Study 3 demonstrates that the effect of uncertainty on the choice of screening strategy is moderated by consideration set size. When uncertain consumers form smaller sets they are more likely to use exclusion screening, but this relationship flips when they form larger consideration sets. Finally, external validity for the relationship between uncertainty and choice of screening strategy is demonstrated in Study 4 using the popular TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Essay two in this dissertation, investigates the role of perceived uncertainty and consideration set size on the relationship between screening strategy and objective accuracy of the decision. Utilizing an experimental study with an actual choice task, I demonstrate that perceived uncertainty moderates the screening strategy-decision accuracy relationship. Further, this interactive relationship is contingent on consideration set sizes. Whereas consumers with high perceived uncertainty make higher quality decisions with inclusion while forming smaller consideration sets, their decision quality is higher with exclusion when forming larger sets. Likewise, while consumers with low perceived uncertainty make more accurate decisions with exclusion when forming smaller sets, the accuracy of their decisions increases with inclusion when forming larger sets. This dissertation contributes to literature on screening strategies by explicating perceived uncertainty as a critical factor that leads to consumers preferring one screening strategy versus the other. Furthermore, it adds to our understanding of an important consequence of using screening strategies--decision accuracy.


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Graduation Date



He, Xin; Echambadi, Raj


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Business Administration



Degree Program

Business Administration








Release Date

February 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Marketing Commons