Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 1179–1184

Framing effects under cognitive load: The role of working memory in risky decisions

  • Paul Whitney
  • Christa A. Rinehart
  • John M. Hinson
Brief Reports

DOI: 10.3758/PBR.15.6.1179

Cite this article as:
Whitney, P., Rinehart, C.A. & Hinson, J.M. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2008) 15: 1179. doi:10.3758/PBR.15.6.1179
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Abstract

Framing effects occur in a wide range of laboratory and natural decision contexts, but the underlying processes that produce framing effects are not well understood. We explored the role of working memory (WM) in framing by manipulating WM loads during risky decisions. After starting with a hypothetical stake of money, participants were then presented a lesser amount that they could keep for certain (positive frame) or lose for certain (negative frame). They made a choice between the sure amount and a gamble in which they could either keep or lose all of the original stake. On half of the trials, the choice was made while maintaining a concurrent WM load of random letters. In both load and no-load conditions, we replicated the typical finding of risk aversion with positive frames and risk seeking with negative frames. In addition, people made fewer decisions to accept the gamble under conditions of higher cognitive load. The data are congruent with a dual-process reasoning framework in which people employ a heuristic to make satisfactory decisions with minimal effort.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Whitney
    • 1
  • Christa A. Rinehart
    • 1
  • John M. Hinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWashington State UniversityPullman