© 2016 International Union of Psychological Science. This study investigated the effects of cognitive style and emotional trade-off difficulty (ETOD) on information processing in decision-making. Eighty undergraduates (73.75% female, M = 21.90), grouped according to their cognitive style (field-dependent or field-independent), conducted an Information Display Board (IDB) task, through which search time, search depth and search pattern were measured. Participants' emotional states were assessed both before and after the IDB task. The results showed that participants experienced significantly more negative emotion under high ETOD compared to those under low ETOD. While both cognitive style and ETOD had significant effects on search time and search depth, only ETOD significantly influenced search pattern; individuals in both cognitive style groups tended to use attribute-based processing under high ETOD and to use alternative-based processing under low ETOD. There was also a significant interaction between cognitive style and ETOD for search time and search depth. We propose that these results are best accounted for by the coping behaviour framework under high ETOD, and by the negative emotion hypothesis under low ETOD.