In the reconciliation of rational-choice and social-influence approaches to
media choice offered here, the choice process is decomposed into two subprocesses.
In the first subprocess—that of rational choice—decisional ambiguity
frustrates complete optimization. Optimization is partial, yielding a set of
effectively interchangeable media alternatives over which the user is indecisive.
In the second subprocess—that of social influence—imitation, deference,
and other cues act on the set of interchangeables, yielding a single ultimate
choice. If in the social-influence subprocess there are benefits to coordinating
with others, group choice crystallizes around a single media alternative. If
these benefits are absent, individual choice remains idiosyncratic, with each
decisionmaker making random choices within the set of interchangeables. In organizational
life, media choice transpires sequentially, with each choice conditioning a
succeeding one. In its dynamic form, the present model explicitly incorporates
such sequential environments: the twofold choice process transpires iteratively
within individual decision sites (in the multiple purchasing decisions of a
committee, for example) as well as sequentially across decision sites (from
committee to individual, for example). The model generates considerable empirical
implications. As decisional ambiguity grows, the rational-choice component of
the choice process shrinks, implying upper-bound conditions for the explanatory
power of rational-choice statistical models.
Back | TIS Home