Less-is-more effects in knowledge-based heuristic inference

Abstract

Inference on the basis of recognition alone is assumed to occur prior to accessing further information (Pachur & Hertwig, 2006). A counterintuitive result of this is the “less-is-more” effect: a drop in the accuracy with which choices are made as to which of two or more items scores highest on a given criterion as more items are learned (Frosch, Beaman & McCloy, 2007; Goldstein & Gigerenzer, 2002). In this paper, we show that less-is-more effects are not unique to recognition-based inference but can also be observed with a knowledge-based strategy provided two assumptions, limited information and differential access, are met. The LINDA model which embodies these assumptions is presented. Analysis of the less-is-more effects predicted by LINDA and by recognition-driven inference shows that these occur for similar reasons and casts doubt upon the “special” nature of recognition-based inference. Suggestions are made for empirical tests to compare knowledge-based and recognition-based less-is-more effects


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