Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration

First Advisor's Name

Monica Chiarini Tremblay

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Co-Chair

Second Advisor's Name

George M. Marakas

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Co-Chair

Third Advisor's Name

Richard Klein

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Benjamin Amick III

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


decision support systems, non-compensatory, customization, relative pricing, perceived risk, health insurance

Date of Defense



Decision support research has largely focused on the mechanics of tool design, with less attention paid to the way the alternatives are presented to the user - that is, the format of the output, how the decision tool design can play a role in it, and the output content (characteristics). Furthermore, little research has examined specific decision contexts and user’s cognitive aspects pertinent to the choice task, and their role during an online purchase. This study addresses these issues by investigating the impact of output format and content of a non-compensatory (NC) tool and a customization-based tool on user’s decision quality in the context of a health insurance purchase. It also examines the moderating role of context (perceived risk) and user’s decision approach (price heuristics) – both salient in a health plan choice.

Drawing from risk perception, decoy effect, price order effect, and options framing, this research carries out 2 studies: 2x3x2 full factorial between subjects experiments. Study 1 examines the effect of NC Descending (price High-Low) choice sets with asymmetrically dominated alternatives, while Study 2 examines NC Descending, NC Ascending, and customization-based tools. Both studies also investigate the roles of perceived risk (high vs low), and user’s decision approach (price heuristics-driven strong vs weak).

Results of Study 1 demonstrate that output content characterized by price anchoring differentially affects user’s decision quality. These dynamics change for users under different levels of perceived risk and with disparate decision approaches. Study 2 indicate that by subjecting the user to reference dependence, usage of NC Descending tool can have a negative impact on decision quality (highest price paid), and usage of NC Ascending and Financial tool have a positive impact (lower price paid). Usage of a customization-based tool, as per the design delineated here, mitigates the negative impact of NC Descending, and further lowers, the influence of NC Ascending tools, by enforcing cost-utility analysis, adopting base-level reference point, and enabling more flexible item composition.

The study contributes to: a) information systems, by uncovering detailed dynamics of the interactions between information delivery and the user; and b) boundaries of reference dependence, thus, loss aversion.





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