Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Committee Member

Mark H. Ashcraft, Chair

Second Committee Member

David E. Copeland

Third Committee Member

Joel Snyder

Graduate Faculty Representative

Kathryn LaTour

Number of Pages



Previous research has indicated that people use various strategies when making decisions. A majority of the research has involved the idea that people use a heuristic when making decisions. Kahneman and Tversky have illustrated that there are instances that people respond with an answer that appears to be indicative of usage of the representativeness heuristic. One of the purposes of the current paper is to gain insight into the actual strategies that are used in these instances. Another purpose of the current experiment is to see if math ability and working memory capacity influence the strategy that a person selects to use. Experiment 1 indicated that people were more accurate on these tasks than expected. On certain tasks, it appears that participants found a simpler strategy than the representativeness heuristic that produces an accurate answer. In experiment 2, the stimuli were adjusted to make sure that the simpler strategy would not work on all trials. The reaction time and response data indicated that the representativeness heuristic was used when other strategies failed to produce a definitive answer. It was also found that the participants who were worse at math defaulted to the representativeness heuristic when the simpler strategy did not result in a definitive answer and that the participants who were better at math were more likely to respond with the correct answer regardless of whether or not the simpler strategy resulted in a definitive answer.


Decision making; Heuristic; Math ability; Mathematical ability; Problem solving; Representativeness; Short-term memory; Weighted coin tossing task; Working memory


Cognitive Psychology | Demography, Population, and Ecology