Rare is the individual who never delays making decisions and taking actions. Delay and procrastination can improve decision making (Janis and Mann, 1977, 17) and be an adaptive reaction to a decision (Taylor, 1979, 43), hut excessive delay can become maladaptive, prolonging a decision so long that it is finally made at the last minute in a slipshod fashion (Lay, 1986, 475, 1988, 203. Solomon and Rothblum, 1984, 505), perhaps so late that the situation requiring the decision becomes moot (Simmons, Klein, and Thornton, 1974, 89). The causes and effects of decision delay should be of interest whenever decision making and actions are studied. To quote Hogarth, Michaud, and Mery (1980): "whereas understanding how people make decisions is important, it is also necessary to understand why people delay making decisions . . . " (pg. 112).
seeking help for a distressing personal problem (Amato and Bradshaw, 1985, 22), donating a kidney (Simmons, Klein, and Thornton, 1973, 111), urban development and business relocation (Hogarth, Michaud, and Mery, 1980, 97), writing undergraduate term papers (Lay, 1988. Solomon and Rothblum, 1984, 507), and completing personal projects (Lay, 1986) or small, everyday tasks (Milgram, Sroloff, and Rosenbaum, 1988, 201). More general typologies of "non-decisions" have also been proposed (Corbin, 1980, 55), including refusal, inattention, and delay.
However, little attention has been given to delay in consumer decision making. Decision and reaction time have been studied in experimental contexts, but a general study of reasons why consumers delay decisions has not been attempted. The purpose of this paper is to investigate, in an exploratory fashion, the causes of .consumer decision delay. Past research on delay has revealed that causes that may generalize to other contexts often exist alongside context-specific causes.