Fast and effective: Intuitive processes in complex decisions

Michael Brusovansky*, Moshe Glickman, Marius Usher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Is it possible to carry out complex multi-attribute decisions (which require an estimation of the weighted average) intuitively, without resorting to simplifying heuristics? Over the course of 600 trials, 26 participants had to choose the better-suiting job-candidate, a task requiring comparison of two alternatives over three/four/five dimensions with specified importance weights, with a time constraint forcing intuitive decisions. Participants performed the task fast (mean reaction time (RT) ~ 1.5 s) and with high accuracy (~86%). The participants were classified as users of one of three strategies: Weighted Additive Utility (WADD), Equal Weight rule and Take-The-Best heuristic (TTB). Fifty-nine percent of the participants were classified as users of the compensatory WADD strategy and 29% as users of the non-compensatory TTB. Moreover, the WADD users achieved higher task accuracy without showing time costs. The results provide support for the existence of an automatic compensatory mechanism in weighted average estimations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1542-1548
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Compensatory process
  • Decision making
  • Take-the-best
  • Weighted average


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