Awareness of option attractiveness increases the attraction search effect: Modeling the awareness effect in an extended iCodes model


Previous research has shown that the tendency to search information for an option increases with option attractiveness. This attraction search effect (ASE) can be explained by the integrated coherence-based decision and search (iCodes) model. In a pre-registered study (N = 202), we investigated whether the ASE increases when participants are made aware of the attractiveness of an option. Participants made repeated choices between options in a task in which information was only partially accessible in a first stage and could actively search for additional information in a second stage. In the experimental condition, participants rated options’ attractiveness between the first and the second stage, while the control group did not. The heightened awareness of option attractiveness increased the magnitude of the ASE as hypothesized and also led to increased search for information on the emerging favored option. An extended iCodes model that includes γ - a parameter tuning the relative impact of option attractiveness and the validity of information on search - could account for the awareness manipulation. The iCodes model extended by the new parameter also captured reliable interindividual differences concerning the ASE and predicted the magnitude of the effect for different cue patterns. The results provide further evidence for the validity of iCodes which not only predicts the effect of attractiveness ratings but also maps the effect specifically on the theoretically adequate γ parameter. Implications for further theory development and theory integration are discussed.

Marc Jekel
Marc Jekel
Post-Doctoral Researcher (Akademischer Rat)

My research interests include coherence-based reasoning, artificial neural networks, information distortion, and methods & statistics.