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Cognitive stress and learning economic order quantity inventory management: An experimental investigation

Pan, Jinrui and Shachat, Jason and Wei, Sijia (2022) 'Cognitive stress and learning economic order quantity inventory management: An experimental investigation.', Decision Analysis .


We use laboratory experiments to evaluate the effects of cognitive stress on inventory management decisions in a finite horizon economic order quantity (EOQ) model. We manipulate two sources of cognitive stress. First, we vary individuals’ participation in a pin memorization task. This exogenously increases cognitive load. Second, we introduce an intervention to reduce cognitive stress by only allowing participants to order when inventory is depleted. This restricts the order choice set. Increases in cognitive load negatively impact earnings with and without the intervention, with these impacts largely occurring in the first attempt of the task. With repetition, participants’ choices in all treatments trend to near optimal policy adoption. However, only in the intervention and low cognitive load treatment do the majority of choices reach the optimal policy. We estimate the learning dynamics of order decisions using a Markov learning model. Estimates suggest increased cognitive load reduces the probability of switching to more profitable policies. Choice set complexity increases biases for smaller order size adjustments, leading to greater policy lock-in.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Cognitive load; Choice set complexity; Economic order quantity; Inventory management; Learning
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Date accepted:11 February 2022
Date deposited:17 February 2022
Date of first online publication:No date available
Date first made open access:17 February 2022

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