Eva Jonas, Stefan Schulz-Hardt and Dieter Frey

Giving advice or making decisions in someone else's place: The influence of impression, defense, and accuracy motivation on the search for new information.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

When making decisions, people have been found to predominantly seek information supporting their preferred choice and to neglect conflicting information. Here, the authors investigated to what extent different types of advisors who either recommend a choice to someone or make a decision on behalf of someone show the same confirmatory information search. In Experiment 1, the authors presented 61 participants, in the role of advisors, with a client's decision problem and found that when making a recommendation, advisors conducted a more balanced information search than participants who were making a decision for themselves. However, advisors who had to make a decision on behalf of their clients revealed an increased preference for information supporting their position. Experiment 2 with 60 participants suggested that this confirmatory information search was caused by impression motivation: The advisors bolstered their decision to justify it to the client. The results are discussed within the multiple-motive framework of the heuristic systematic model.