Verbal Reports Reveal Strategies in Multiple-Cue Probabilistic Inference


In multiple-cue probabilistic inference, people choose between alternatives based on several cues, each of which is differentially associated with an alternative’s overall value. Various strategies have been proposed for probabilistic inference. These include heuristics, simple strategies that ignore part of the available information to make decisions more quickly and with less effort. Heuristic models seek to explain the sequence of cognitive events that occur as people make decisions. Validating these models involves evaluating their predictions concerning both outcomes and process measures. In this study, we gathered verbal protocols from participants as they performed multiple-cue probabilistic inference. We find converging evidence across decisions, search behavior, and verbal reports that many participants use a simplifying heuristic, take-the-best. These results provide novel evidence for take-the-best as a process model of human decision behavior in multiple-cue probabilistic inference.

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