, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 895-900

Sequential processing of cues in memory-based multiattribute decisions


When probabilistic inferences have to be made from cue values stored in long-term memory, many participants appear to use fast and frugal heuristics, such as “take the best” (TTB), that assume sequential search of cues. A simultaneous global matching process with cue weights that are appropriately chosen would mimic the decision outcomes, albeit assuming different cognitive processes. We present a reanalysis of response times (RTs) from five published experiments (n 5 415) and one new experiment (n 5 82) that support the assumption of sequential search. In all instances in which decision outcomes indicated the use of TTB’s decision rule, decision times increased monotonically with the number of cues that had to be searched in memory. Furthermore, RT patterns fitted the outcome-based strategy classifications, which further validates both measures.

The research was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Grant BR-2130/1-2 and by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.