ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (10): 1758-1768.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.01758

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Why information overload damages decisions? An explanation based on limited cognitive resources

CHE Jingshang1, SUN Hailong2, XIAO Chenjie1, LI Aimei1()   

  1. 1Management School, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China
    2School of Business, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou 510420, China
  • Received:2018-12-20 Online:2019-10-15 Published:2019-08-19
  • Contact: LI Aimei


Information overload occurs when the current information processing requirements exceed information processing capacities. Information overload can impair the quality of decisions, prolong decision-making time, reduce decision satisfaction, and cause chronic stress. The attentional resources theory and limited working memory capacity can be used to explain why information overload damages decisions. Attention resources for filtering and managing information are consumed quickly under information overload and the allocation and utilization of attention resources can be disrupted by irrelevant information, which causes the efficiency of information processing to be reduced. Moreover, the available working memory for information processing can't process massive amounts of information in a limited time. As a result, decision performance is damaged by information overload. Future research should further explore the information processing model under information overload, the eye movement empowerment method allows us to examine attention resource usage under information overload. A dynamic coupling model of conscious and unconscious thought is required to provide a method to guide individuals to alleviate information overload. Additionally, intelligent agents and interactive memory systems should be investigated to find their potential roles in alleviating information overload within larger organizations.

Key words: information overload, information processing, attentional resources theory, cognitive load theory, unconscious thought

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