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The Effects of Mood on Individuals' Use of Structured Decision Protocols

  • Author(s): Elsbach, Kimberly D
  • Barr, Pamela S
  • et al.
Abstract

This paper begins to answer the call to broaden current theories of individual decision-making by including in them the effects of human mood. Grounding our arguments in psychological literature on the effects of mood on information processing, motivation, and decision heuristics, we develop hypotheses about how mood can significantly affect individuals' use of structured decision protocols. In support of our hypotheses, results from an experimental study of complex decision-making suggest that, in situations where a structured decision protocol is the usual method of decision-making, individuals in moderately negative moods are significantly more likely than those in moderately positive moods to: (1) carefully execute all the steps of a structured decision protocol, (2) execute the steps of a structured decision protocol in the correct order, and (3) rely on the outcome of the structured decision protocol as the primary basis for the decision. We discuss these findings in terms of their implications for both organizational decision models and psychological models of mood and decision-making. In general, our findings help establish mood as an important variable in models of organizational decision-making and help shed light on often conflicting findings about the benefits of positive vs. negative mood for individual decision-making.

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