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Mem Cognit. 2015 May;43(4):659-71. doi: 10.3758/s13421-014-0493-z.

Whatever the cost? Information integration in memory-based inferences depends on cognitive effort.

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Cognitive Psychology Lab, Department of Psychology, University of Koblenz-Landau, Fortstra├če 7, 76829, Landau, Germany,


One of the most prominent models of probabilistic inferences from memory is the simple recognition heuristic (RH). The RH theory assumes that judgments are based on recognition in isolation, such that other information is ignored. However, some prior research has shown that available knowledge is not generally ignored. In line with the notion of adaptive strategy selection--and, thus, a trade-off between accuracy and effort--we hypothesized that information integration crucially depends on how easily accessible information beyond recognition is, how much confidence decision makers have in this information, and how (cognitively) costly it is to acquire it. In three experiments, we thus manipulated (a) the availability of information beyond recognition, (b) the subjective usefulness of this information, and (c) the cognitive costs associated with acquiring this information. In line with the predictions, we found that RH use decreased substantially, the more easily and confidently information beyond recognition could be integrated, and increased substantially with increasing cognitive costs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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