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In this research we reexamine and update prior research on the association between decision conflict and choice deferral. Decision conflict has featured prominently in psychology literature, going back to the seminal work of Lewin (1933), Miller (1944), and Janis and Mann (1977). Building on this earlier work and the assumption of conflict as an inhibitor of choice, Tversky and Shafir (1992; see also Dhar 1997) argued that the tendency to defer a decision can increase when decision makers experience conflict because of the need to make trade-offs between options in a set. Tversky and Shafir (1992) showed that decision makers may defer choice more when faced with two options presenting trade-offs compared with when they are offered either a single option (see also Dhar 1997) or two options where one alternative dominates the other. Relatedly, Luce (1998) showed that decision makers may be more likely to defer choice when faced with multiple options presenting relatively difficult (versus easy) trade-offs. We reexamine published data and report the results of 40 well-powered direct and conceptual replications of these effects (total n = 26,703) that cast doubt on the replicability of prior research. Our data suggest that additional research is needed in order to reveal a robust association between experimental manipulations of decision conflict and choice deferral. We conclude our investigation by delineating a set of directions for future research on this topic.

This paper was accepted by Yuval Rottenstreich, behavioral economics and decision analysis.

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