Measuring individual differences in cognitive effort avoidance

AbstractWhen given the chance to choose between two tasks, one will more likely choose the easier, less demanding task. This effect has been shown in various domains and referred to as the law of minimum effort or demand avoidance. The measure of demand avoidance that is currently used is the proportion of low-demand choices. We show that the current measure is not appropriate for accurately assessing individual differences in demand avoidance, because the process of demand selection is contingent upon the process of demand detection. Subsequently, we suggest a new measure of demand avoidance that combines demand detection and demand selection. We show that the new measure of demand avoidance correlates in the expected direction (i.e., negatively) with established measures of willingness and ability to carry out cognitively demanding tasks.

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