Congratulations to Ashley Lawrence for successfully defending her dissertation: An Accessibility Framework for Cue-Based Inferences!
Many studies throughout the area of decision-making have shown that people are able to adapt to different decision environments. A number of frameworks have been proposed that seek to explain adaptive decision making in the context of cue-based inferences, a type of decision where a person decides which option is highest on a variable of interest based on the attributes of those options. However, current frameworks fail to account for the role of memory in cue-based inferences. The goal of this dissertation was to test whether a framework based on the accessibility of cues in memory can provide a better account of adaptive decision-making in cue-based inferences compared to either the adaptive toolbox or current single-strategy models. Three experiments were conducted to test the accessibility framework by manipulating decision environments as well as directly manipulating memory for cues. The results of the experiments extend previous research showing that memory affects cue-based inferences, challenging frameworks that are based on validity only. They also extend research on adaptive decision-making by showing that people are sensitive to the decision environment but that this does not always result in changes to both decision outcomes and decision processes. Overall, the accessibility framework provides a promising foundation for explaining how people make cue-based inferences, but further research is necessary to better understand how people search cues, particularly how they decide to stop searching.