This study empirically examines an alternative conceptual approach to the nature of importance perceptions. Current interpretations of importance evaluations--demand, need, and value-based approaches--have been primarily connotative and continue to remain bereft of convincing logical or empirical support. Borrowing from social-psychological theories of cognitive structure, the study tests the usefulness of a conceptualization of importance perceptions which presents the construct as a function of cognitive centrality, dependence, criticalness, and temporary salience of factors and outcomes in the individual cognitive space. The model is examined over a wide range of factors with findings indicating that significant proportions of variance in importance rating/rankings may be thus explained. Implications for management theory and practices are discussed.