Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Business Administration

First Advisor

Nayakankuppam, Dhananjay

First Committee Member

Cole, Catherine A.

Second Committee Member

Levin, Irwin P.

Third Committee Member

Wang, Jing

Fourth Committee Member

Windschitl, Paul D.


Consideration set formation has been suggested as an important decision-making stage prior to choice. The current research focuses on consideration sets in the memory-based choice context and addresses the gaps in the existing literature by investigating the effects of mindset abstraction on memory retrieval and the number of considered choice alternatives retrieved from memory. I propose that individuals in a concrete (vs. abstract) mindset think more contextual and specific details (vs. fewer essences) about a certain decision situation; therefore concrete and fine-grained mental representations, compared to abstract and rough representations, will activate more associated cues in memory and lead to larger memory-based consideration sets. Through a word association task, studies 1a and 1b show that concrete mindsets leads to more proliferative associations and a greater number of conceptual cues than abstract mindsets. In the domain of product consideration (i.e., snack and dinner), studies 2a and 2b directly demonstrate that individuals in concrete mindsets form a larger memory-based consideration set than ones in abstract mindsets. I further propose the Hypothesis of Top-down versus Bottom-up Approach of Memory Retrieval to explain the mechanism that underlies the mindset abstraction effect on size of memory-based consideration sets. Studies 3 and 4, using an episodic memory paradigm, support this hypothesis and reveal that the type of retrieval cues (superordinate vs. subordinate cues) used by individuals in an abstract versus a concrete mindset determines the likelihood that a brand is considered, and that the richer associations located at the subordinate level contribute to a greater number of choice alternatives that people consider in a concrete mindset. The theoretical contributions, practical implications, and future research directions of this research are finally discussed.


consideration set, construal level, memory-based choice, memory retrieval, mindset abstraction


ix, 118 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 112-118).


Copyright 2013 FANG CHI LU