Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Kathy Pezdek

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Andrew R.A. Conway

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gabriel I. Cook

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jeffery Mio

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2020 Michael R. Ho


Choice Overload, Decision Conflict, Metacognition

Subject Categories

Cognitive Psychology | Marketing


Choice overload describes the finding that individuals report being less satisfied and defer choice more often when choosing from larger rather than smaller choice sets. Researchers have proposed various theoretical models to account for this phenomenon; however, these models have yielded conflicting results. Critically, little research has sought to identify the cognitive mechanism underlying choice overload. The present study reviews models of choice overload and offers a more parsimonious account of choice overload. More specifically, metacognitive fluency, or the subjective interpretation of choice difficulty, plays a critical role during choice and may account for conflicting results in current choice overload research. The metacognitive fluency literature has suggested that choice difficulty may impede or facilitate choice depending on choice context and that choice difficulty is no longer used as a judgment cue when choice difficulty is attributed to an outside source. Experiment 1 tested and confirmed the hypothesis that the value framing of fluency differentially impacts choice satisfaction depending on whether choice fluency signals positive or negative value. Using an attribution paradigm, Experiment 2 tested, but did not confirm the hypothesis that attributions of fluency differentially impact choice satisfaction depending on whether an external source is thought to impede or facilitate choice. Critically, both experiments failed to replicate the choice overload effect. These results provide initial evidence that metacognitive fluency is used as a judgment cue during consumer decision making, however, further research in needed to clarify the relationship between choice set size and metacognitive fluency. This cognitive approach to choice overload offers a promising foundation for future research.