Selective Exposure, Decision Uncertainty, and Cognitive Economy: A New Theoretical Perspective on Confirmatory Information Search



We propose that a variety of findings on selective exposure effects (confirmatory information search) and their different underlying psychological processes can be integrated utilizing a new model based upon perceived decision uncertainty and cognitive economy. The proposed model assumes that (a) perceived decision uncertainty is negatively related to the extent of engagement in confirmatory information search; (b) that decision makers are fundamentally motivated to preserve cognitive energy; and (c) that the cognitive processing of decision-consistent information requires fewer cognitive resources than the processing of decision-inconsistent information. By employing these three basic assumptions on cognitive economy and confirmatory information processing, we can integrate classic motivational (dissonance) and cognitive (informational) accounts of selective exposure.