When irrelevance matters! Effects of distractor-response binding in binary choices under uncertainty


The distractor-response binding effect states (Frings, Rothermund, & Wentura, 2007) that distractors appearing on a prime display create an association with the response given. This association is retrieved when, in the probe, the distractor is repeated; the retrieved response can be compatible or incompatible to the currently demanded probe response thereby influencing behavior. We tested if the distractor-response binding effect also occurs in decision making processes under uncertainty (N = 31). Participants had to decide whether two consecutive, imagined patients suffered from either of two diseases. Each decision was based on two cues; one did not discriminate between the two diseases and the other was either strongly or mildly associated with one of the two diseases. The repeating of the irrelevant cue influences decision significantly. Furthermore, we replicated these findings when we varied the strength of the discriminating cue as between-subject factor.

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