Acceptance and Elimination Procedures in Choice: Noncomplementarity and the Role of Implied Status quo

Ilan Yaniv, Yaacov Schul

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39 Scopus citations


The present research contrasts two seemingly complementary decision strategies: acceptance and elimination. In acceptance, a choice set is created by including suitable alternatives from an initial set of alternatives, whereas in elimination it is created by removing inappropriate alternatives from that same initial set. The research used realistic career decision-making scenarios and presented to respondents sets of alternatives that varied in their preexperimental strength values. Whereas complementarity of acceptance and elimination is implied by three standard (normative) assumptions of decision theory, we find a systematic discrepancy between the outcomes of these procedures: choice sets were larger in elimination than in acceptance. This acceptance-elimination discrepancy is directly tied to subcomplementarity. The central tenet of the theoretical framework developed here is that acceptance and elimination procedures imply different types of status quo for the alternatives, thereby invoking a different selection criterion for each procedure. A central prediction of the dual-criterion framework is that middling alternatives should be most susceptible to the type of procedure used. The present studies focus on this prediction which is substantiated by the results showing that middling alternatives yield the greatest discrepancy between acceptance and elimination. The implications of this model and findings for various research domains are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)293-313
Number of pages21
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by a grant from the Israel Foundations Trustees (1998±2000) to both authors. We thank Prof. Itamar Gati for advice and for making his databases, questionnaires, and software available to us for constructing our research materials.


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