Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Naveen Donthu - Chair

Second Advisor

Detmar Straub

Third Advisor

Corliss Thornton

Fourth Advisor

Sevo Eroglu


Information load at various thresholds has been asserted to cause a decline in decision quality across several domains, including marketing (Eppler and Mengis 2004). The influence of each information load dimension may vary by study and context (Malhotra 1982; Lurie 2002; Lee and Lee 2004). Given the explosion of information available on the internet, attracting an estimated 144 million U.S. users (Burns 2006a), this experimental research examined how three dimensions of online product information load influenced consumers’ perceived cognitive effort. To the researcher’s knowledge, online product breadth, depth, and density have not been empirically tested together, in a multi-page within website context. A nationwide panel of 268 adult consumers participated in the web-based consumer electronics online search and selection task. Results suggest that a consumer’s perceived cognitive effort with the search and selection task negatively influences choice quality and decision satisfaction. Although product breadth directly influenced both choice quality and cognitive effort negatively, cognitive effort mediated product depth’s influence on choice quality and decision satisfaction. The perception of informational crowding also negatively influenced cognitive effort. Additionally, a choice involvement scale was adapted and developed based upon Schwartz’s (2004) Maximizer and Satisficer scale. Results suggest that the higher one’s choice involvement (tendency toward being a Maximizer), the lower one’s perceived cognitive effort with the search and selection task. Both product and choice involvement demonstrated a direct negative influence on cognitive effort, lending further empirical support for the information processing theory of consumer choice (Bettman 1979). A stimulus-organism-response framework, adapted from environmental psychology, was employed to model the relationships among the constructs tested. Results suggest that this framework may be helpful for guiding future online consumer research.

Included in

Marketing Commons