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Fast or Frugal, but not both: Decision Heuristics under Time Pressure

Bobadilla Suarez, S; Love, B; (2018) Fast or Frugal, but not both: Decision Heuristics under Time Pressure. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition , 44 (1) pp. 24-33. 10.1037/xlm0000419. Green open access

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Abstract

Heuristics are simple, yet effective, strategies that people use to make decisions. Because heuristics do not require all available information, they are thought to be easy to implement and to not tax limited cognitive resources, which has led heuristics to be characterized as fast-and-frugal. We question this monolithic conception of heuristics by contrasting the cognitive demands of two popular heuristics, Tallying and Take-the-Best. We contend that heuristics that are frugal in terms of information usage may not always be fast because of the attentional control required to implement this focus in certain contexts. In support of this hypothesis, we find that Take-the-Best, while being more frugal in terms of information usage, is slower to implement and fares worse under time pressure manipulations than Tallying. This effect is then reversed when search costs for Take-the-Best are reduced by changing the format of the stimuli. These findings suggest that heuristics are heterogeneous and should be unpacked according to their cognitive demands to determine the circumstances a heuristic best applies.

Type: Article
Title: Fast or Frugal, but not both: Decision Heuristics under Time Pressure
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/xlm0000419
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000419
Language: English
Additional information: This article has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Copyright for this article is retained by the author(s). Author(s) grant(s) the American Psychological Association the exclusive right to publish the article and identify itself as the original publisher.
Keywords: heuristics, reaction time (RT), selective attention, search costs, decision making
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10038268
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