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J Appl Res Mem Cogn. 2015 Dec 1;4(4):344-355.

How Reasoning, Judgment, and Decision Making are Colored by Gist-based Intuition: A Fuzzy-Trace Theory Approach.

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Cornell University.


Fuzzy-trace theory distinguishes verbatim (literal, exact) from gist (meaningful) representations, predicting that reliance on gist increases with experience and expertise. Thus, many judgment-and-decision-making biases increase with development, such that cognition is colored by context in ways that violate logical coherence and probability theories. Nevertheless, this increase in gist-based intuition is adaptive: Gist is stable, less sensitive to interference, and easier to manipulate. Moreover, gist captures the functionally significant essence of information, supporting healthier and more robust decision processes. We describe how fuzzy-trace theory accounts for judgment-and-decision making phenomena, predicting the paradoxical arc of these processes with the development of experience and expertise. We present data linking gist memory processes to gist processing in decision making and provide illustrations of gist reliance in medicine, public health, and intelligence analysis.


decision making; development; expertise; fuzzy-trace theory; heuristics and biases; memory

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