Decision making with the "adaptive toolbox": influence of environmental structure, intelligence, and working memory load

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2003 Jul;29(4):611-25. doi: 10.1037/0278-7393.29.4.611.


In 2 experiments with a total of 220 participants, the tendency to use simple heuristics such as the take the best heuristic in an adaptive manner was investigated. In a simulated stock market paradigm, the payoff structure of environments was varied, favoring either compensatory or noncompensatory decision strategies in terms of expected long-term payoff. In both experiments, the majority of participants were classified as using strategies that were adequate for the environment, supporting the notion of adaptive strategy selection. These strategy shifts were moderated by intelligence, as measured with common tests. Neither an additional learning phase (Experiment 1) nor working memory load or working memory capacity (Experiment 2) had additional effects on strategy selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior
  • Cues
  • Decision Making*
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Male
  • Memory*