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Front Psychol. 2011 Jun 17;2:129. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00129. eCollection 2011.

Implications of cognitive load for hypothesis generation and probability judgment.

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Decision Attention and Memory Lab, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland College Park, MD, USA.


We tested the predictions of HyGene (Thomas et al., 2008) that both divided attention at encoding and judgment should affect the degree to which participants' probability judgments violate the principle of additivity. In two experiments, we showed that divided attention during judgment leads to an increase in subadditivity, suggesting that the comparison process for probability judgments is capacity limited. Contrary to the predictions of HyGene, a third experiment revealed that divided attention during encoding leads to an increase in later probability judgment made under full attention. The effect of divided attention during encoding on judgment was completely mediated by the number of hypotheses participants generated, indicating that limitations in both encoding and recall can cascade into biases in judgments.


hypothesis generation; probability judgment; support theory; working memory

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