The unconscious thought advantage: Further replication failures from a search for confirmatory evidence

Mark Nieuwenstein*, Hedderik van Rijn

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

11 Citaten (Scopus)


According to the deliberation without attention (DWA) hypothesis, people facing a difficult choice will make a better decision after a period of distraction than after an equally long period of conscious deliberation, an effect referred to as the unconscious thought advantage (UTA). The status of the DWA hypothesis is controversial, as many studies have tried but failed to replicate the UTA. Here, we report a series of experiments that sought to identify the conditions under which the UTA can be replicated. Our starting point was a recent meta-analysis that identified the conditions under which the UTA was strongest in previous studies. Using a within-subjects design and a task that met each of these conditions, we failed to replicate the UTA. Based on closer inspection of previous methods and findings, we then examined some additional factors that could be important for replicating the UTA, including mental fatigue and choice complexity. This was to no avail, as the results revealed only a significant conscious thought advantage, when choice complexity was increased relative to the first experiment. We subsequently conducted exploratory analyses on the data across experiments and found that male subjects showed a significant conscious thought advantage while female subjects showed a trend towards an UTA. Taken together, our results suggest that replication of the UTA may depend more on characteristics of the sample than on the characteristics of the task, and they suggest that gender could be a source of variance in the outcomes of previous studies using a between-subjects design.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)779-798
Aantal pagina's20
TijdschriftJudgment and decision making
Nummer van het tijdschrift6
StatusPublished - nov-2012

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