Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Lisa L. Scherer

Second Advisor

Roni Reiter-Palmon

Third Advisor

Kenneth Deffenbacher


Differences between experts and novices have been the focus of a variety of studies throughout the psychological literature. In general, task outcome differences have been found between experts and novices, but further study is needed to understand the mechanism for explaining these outcome differences. This study investigated taskprocessing differences between experts and novices, specifically, the use of relevant and irrelevant information. Forty human resource professionals served as experts and 40 undergraduate students served as novices in this study. Participants made two hiring decisions. Using an information board format, participants examined eight attributes across six candidates for the job of museum curator and chose the applicant they believed would perform the best. It was hypothesized that experts would be better able to ignore irrelevant information than novices. An interaction between expertise and information relevance was found such that experts searched less information than novices during a decision task in which both irrelevant and relevant information is present (low relevance condition). Novices did not differ in the quantity of information searched as a function of information relevance. To test an exploratory hypothesis, chi-square analyses were used to examine the use of compensatory versus noncompensatory .search strategy by experts and novices. Experts adjusted their use of search strategy based on the relevance of information presented, while novices tended to use a noncompensatory search strategy regardless of information relevance condition.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts, Psychology University of Nebraska at Omaha.

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