The aim of this study was to assess the extent to which Need for Cognitive Closure (NCC), an individual-level epistemic motivation, can explain inter-individual variability in the cognitive effort invested on a perceptual decision making task (the random motion task). High levels of NCC are manifested in a preference for clarity, order and structure and a desire for firm and stable knowledge. The study evaluated how NCC moderates the impact of two variables known to increase the amount of cognitive effort invested on a task, namely task ambiguity (i.e., the difficulty of the perceptual discrimination) and outcome relevance (i.e., the monetary gain associated with a correct discrimination). Based on previous work and current design, we assumed that reaction times (RTs) on our motion discrimination task represent a valid index of effort investment. Task ambiguity was associated with increased cognitive effort in participants with low or medium NCC but, interestingly, it did not affect the RTs of participants with high NCC. A different pattern of association was observed for outcome relevance; high outcome relevance increased cognitive effort in participants with moderate or high NCC, but did not affect the performance of low NCC participants. In summary, the performance of individuals with low NCC was affected by task difficulty but not by outcome relevance, whereas individuals with high NCC were influenced by outcome relevance but not by task difficulty; only participants with medium NCC were affected by both task difficulty and outcome relevance. These results suggest that perceptual decision making is influenced by the interaction between context and NCC.
Viola, V., Tosoni, A., Brizi, A., Salvato, I., Kruglanski, A. W., Galati, G., & Mannetti, L. (2015). Need for cognitive closure modulates how perceptual decisions are affected by task difficulty and outcome relevance. PLoS ONE, 10(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0146002