This article challenges the view that it is always better to hold decision makers accountable for their decision process rather than their decision outcomes. In three multiple-cue judgment studies, the authors show that process accountability, relative to outcome accountability, consistently improves judgment quality in relatively simple elemental tasks. However, this performance advantage of process accountability does not generalize to more complex configural tasks. This is because process accountability improves an analytical process based on cue abstraction, while it does not change a holistic process based on exemplar memory. Cue abstraction is only effective in elemental tasks (in which outcomes are a linear additive combination of cues) but not in configural tasks (in which outcomes depend on interactions between the cues). In addition, Studies 2 and 3 show that the extent to which process and outcome accountability affect judgment quality depends on individual differences in analytical intelligence and rational thinking style.

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Keywords Raven matrices, analytical intelligence, cue abstraction, dual-process models, epistemic motivation, exemplar memory, multiple-cue judgment, outcome accountability, process accountbility, rational–experiential inventory
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Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
de Langhe, B, van Osselaer, S.M.J, & Wierenga, B. (2011). The effects of process and outcome accountability on judgment process and performance. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 115(2), 238–252. doi:10.1016/j.obhdp.2011.02.003