Attempting to discover the most effective way to offer advice, researchers identified four separate types of advice:
- Advice for is a recommendation to pick a particular option.
- Advice against is a recommendation to avoid a particular option.
- Information supplies a piece of information that the decision maker might not know about.
- Decision support suggests how to go about making the choice, but does not make a specific recommendation.
Their study showed that information advice was the most valuable to those making decisions, for a number of reasons:
For one thing, when someone makes a recommendation for or against a particular option, a decision maker may feel like they have lost a bit of their independence in making a choice. Recommendations about how to go about making the choice may also make a decision maker feel a loss of independence. When the advice comes in the form of information, though, the decision maker still feels like they have some autonomy.
Second, information helps people to make future decisions in the same domain. New pieces of information often make people aware of dimensions of a decision that they had never considered before. A recommendation for or against a particular option is useful for the specific decision that you are making at a given time, but that advice may not be as helpful in the future.
Finally, getting information makes people feel more confident in the decision they ultimately make. The information provides reasons for or against a particular option. There is a lot of evidence that people feel better about decisions when they are able to give a reason for making the choice. Information provides a good justification for a choice.