Constrained rationality: Situational influences on information acquisition plans andtactics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


It is argued that the relative influence of automatic, knowledge-based, and creative planning processes on conversational behavior should vary as a function of planning constraints. The effects of two potential constraints, instrumental goal priority and instrumental goal complexity, on cognitive and tactical indices of planning were assessed. As expected, increased instrumental goal priority resulted in reduced creative planning, as indicated by the prominence of simple and direct information acquisition plans. Indirect plans which simultaneously addressed instrumental and relational/identity management concerns were used less frequently under these conditions. Manipulation of instrumental goal complexity resulted in similar but less extensive effects on planning. Both types of planning constraints resulted in increased use of direct information acquisition tactics. The results suggest interactants are strategic planners to the extent that situational and cognitive resource constraints allow. The cued-recall method used in this study to elicit participants' reconstructed conversational cognitions is offered as a potentially useful supplement to existing methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-201
Number of pages18
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication


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