The Multifold Relationship Between Memory and Decision Making

An Individual-Differences Study

Published in: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v. 39, no. 5, Sep. 2013, p. 1344-1364

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2013

by Fabio del Missier, Timo Mäntylä, Patrik Hansson, Wandi Bruine de Bruin, Andrew M. Parker, Lars-Göran Nilsson

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Several judgment and decision-making tasks are assumed to involve memory functions, but significant knowledge gaps on the memory processes underlying these tasks remain. In a study on 568 adults between 25 and 80 years of age, hypotheses were tested on the specific relationships between individual differences in working memory, episodic memory, and semantic memory, respectively, and 6 main components of decision-making competence. In line with the hypotheses, working memory was positively related with the more cognitively demanding tasks (Resistance to Framing, Applying Decision Rules, and Under/Overconfidence), whereas episodic memory was positively associated with a more experience-based judgment task (Recognizing Social Norms). Furthermore, semantic memory was positively related with 2 more knowledge-based decision-making tasks (Consistency in Risk Perception and Resistance to Sunk Costs). Finally, the age-related decline observed in some of the decision-making tasks was (partially or totally) mediated by the age-related decline in working memory or episodic memory. These findings are discussed in relation to the functional roles fulfilled by different memory processes in judgment and decision-making tasks.

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