Familiarity-matching in decision making: Experimental studies on cognitive processes and analyses of its ecological rationality


Previous studies have shown that individuals often make inferences based on heuristics using recognition, fluency, or familiarity. In the present study, we propose a new heuristic called familiarity-matching, which predicts that when a decision maker is familiar (or unfamiliar) with an object in a question sentence, s/he will choose the more (or less) familiar object from the two alternatives. We examined inference processes and ecological rationality regarding familiarity-matching through three studies including behavioral experiments and ecological analyses. Results showed that participants often used familiarity-matching in solving difficult binary choice problems, and that familiarity-matching could be applied in an ecologically rational manner in real-world situations. A new perspective on human cognitive processes is discussed in this study.

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