Numeric and linguistic information representation in multiattribute choice

Dan N. Stone, David A. Schkade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


The form in which attribute values are represented is an important component of choice tasks. However, there is little evidence about the effects on decision processes of representing attribute values of alternatives numerically (i.e., as numbers) versus linguistically (i.e., as words). To investigate this issue, we conducted a process tracing study of multiattribute choice in which each of 24 participants made choices among alternative computer information systems. The number and similarity of alternatives were also manipulated to examine interactions of information representation with other task and context variables. Detailed measure of decision processes were collected through concurrent verbal protocols and computer logs generated by a mouse-driven software program. Results indicate that, relative to numbers, words lead to more alternative-based information search and less compensatory processing. We also find that the number and similarity of alternatives have important moderating influences on the effects of information representation. We conclude with implications for decision research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-59
Number of pages18
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1991

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the Deloitte, Haskins, and Sells Foundation to the first author. Helpful comments from Jan Carter, Bill Dilla, Sirkka Jarvenpaa, Don Kleinmuntz, Tom Wallsten, and two anonymous reviewers are gratefully acknowledged, as well as from workshop participants at University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Illinois, University of North Carolina, Pennsylvania State University, and University of Texas.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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