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Directed forgetting in organisations: the positive effects of decision support systems on mental resources and well-being

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Decision makers in organisations are often overtaxed by huge amounts of information in daily business processes. As a potential support strategy, this study examined ‘directed forgetting’ (Bjork, 1970) in a simulated sales planning scenario. We assumed that the availability of a computer-based decision support system (DSS) triggers the forgetting of decision-related background information. Such directed forgetting should not only release memory capacities for additional tasks but also enhance decision quality and decrease strain of decision makers. Assumptions were tested in an experimental study with N = 90 participants. Consistent with our assumptions, results revealed a higher recall of decision-unrelated information, higher decision quality and higher well-being when participants could use a DSS as compared to two Control conditions without a DSS. Moreover, directed forgetting effects were qualified by participants’ trust in the DSS. This study provides the first evidence for directed forgetting effects cued by information systems in a business context.

Practitioner summary: Information overload is an increasing challenge in modern business organisations. Extending findings from basic memory research, this study shows that availability of a computer-based decision support system triggers forgetting of decision-related background information, which in turn increases users’ mental resources for additional tasks, decision quality, and well-being.
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Keywords: Directed forgetting; decision making; knowledge management; trust; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology - Organizational & Business Psychology, University of Münster, Münster, Germany; 2: European Research Center for Information Systems (ERCIS), Department of Information Systems, University of Münster, Münster, Germany

Publication date: May 4, 2019

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