Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 1174–1178

The use of heuristics in intuitive mathematical judgment

Brief Reports

DOI: 10.3758/PBR.15.6.1174

Cite this article as:
Reber, R., Brun, M. & Mitterndorfer, K. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2008) 15: 1174. doi:10.3758/PBR.15.6.1174


Anecdotal evidence points to the use of beauty as an indication of truth in mathematical problem solving. In the two experiments of the present study, we examined the use of heuristics and tested the assumption that participants use symmetry as a cue for correctness in an arithmetic verification task. We manipulated the symmetry of sets of dot pattern addition equations. Speeded decisions about the correctness of these equations led to higher endorsements for both correct and incorrect equations when the addend and sum dot patterns were symmetrical. Therefore, this effect is not due to the fact that symmetry facilitates calculation or estimation. We found systematic evidence for the use of heuristics in solving mathematical tasks, and we discuss how these findings relate to a processing-fluency account of intuition in mathematical judgment.

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© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rolf Reber
    • 1
  • Morten Brun
    • 1
  • Karoline Mitterndorfer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience GroupUniversity of BergenBergenNorway