Empirical tests of the recognition heuristic



The recognition heuristic postulates that individuals should choose a recognized object more often than an unrecognized one whenever recognition is related to the criterion. This behavior has been described as a one-cue, noncompensatory decision-making strategy. This claim and other assumptions were tested in four experiments using paired-comparison tasks with cities and other geographical objects. The main results were (1) that the recognized object was chosen more often than the unrecognized one when the recognition cue was valid; (2) that participants' behavior did not reflect the recognition validity of their own knowledge; (3) that a less-is-more effect (i.e., better performance with less knowledge) was either absent or of only small size; and (4) that judgments were influenced by further knowledge, which could even compensate for the recognition cue. In sum, the recognition cue represents an important piece of knowledge in paired comparisons, but apparently not the only one. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.