Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Business and Economics


Marketing and Supply Chain

First Advisor

Dr. David M. Hardesty

Second Advisor

Dr. Blair Kidwell


This research introduces a new theoretical perspective (termed the Adaptive Processing Perspective) that reexamines how consumers should think before making decisions and the optimal outcomes that result. New insights into conscious (“careful deliberation”), unconscious (“sleeping on it”), and intuitive (“going with your gut”) thought processes are provided. Across four studies, empirical evidence demonstrates that consumers can make significantly better decisions by thinking more about routine choices, using their intuition for occasional purchase decisions, and distracting themselves before making major purchase decisions. Specifically, in study 1, increased conscious thought optimized routine decision making due to increases in openness to information. In study 2, consumers using intuition optimized an occasional purchase decision by focusing attention on relevant information. Study 3 demonstrated unconscious thought to be optimal for consumers when making a major purchase decision via their engagement in associative processing. Lastly, study 4 provided further support for the Adaptive Processing Perspective by manipulating the decision setting (i.e., routine, limited, extensive) across a common product and replicating the earlier study results. Several theoretical and practical advances to the domains of information processing and consumer decision making are offered and discussed.

Included in

Marketing Commons