Heuristic use is a central topic in consumer research, but the factors that determine when consumers will settle for shortcut solutions to choice problems (e.g., compromise) versus rely on “true” preferences (e.g., self-goals) remain unclear. We propose that both motivation to use self-goals, as indexed by need for cognition (NFC), and cognitive ability, manipulated through cognitive load, influence the use of the compromise heuristic. Three studies showed that NFC is associated with less compromise at baseline but not under load. Process measures and moderation tests suggest that load disrupts access to self-goals and that NFC relates to self-goal use. Thus, load differentially influences compromise choice across levels of NFC. (c) 2008 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..