On the pursuit and misuse of useless information

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998 Jul;75(1):19-32. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.75.1.19.


Decision makers often pursue noninstrumental information--information that appears relevant but, if simply available, would have no impact on choice. Once they pursue such information, people then use it to make their decision. Consequently, the pursuit of information that would have had no impact on choice leads people to make choices they would not otherwise have made. The pursuit of noninstrumental information is documented and its effects on ensuing decisions are explored in a variety of social, consumer, and strategic situations. The causes and implications of this pattern are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior
  • Decision Making*
  • Decision Theory
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes*
  • Motivation
  • Problem Solving*
  • Students / psychology