Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Tim Curran

Second Advisor

Alice Healy

Third Advisor

Randy O’Reilly


Simple heuristics have been shown to facilitate the interplay between memory and judgment processes by exploiting fundamental cognitive abilities. The recognition and fluency heuristics are prime examples of shortcuts that capitalize on the by-products of memory retrieval to make quick decisions. In Experiment 1, we used a city-size comparison task while recording event-related potentials (ERPs) to investigate the potential contributions of familiarity and recollection to the two heuristics. ERPs were markedly different for recognition heuristic-based decisions and fluency heuristic-based decisions, suggesting a role for familiarity in the recognition heuristic and recollection in the fluency heuristic. In Experiment 2, we coupled a city-size comparison task with measures of perceived pre-experimental memory for each stimulus in the task. We found that more speedily recognized regions were also associated with greater amounts of recollection. Although previous literature suggests the fluency heuristic relies on recognition speed alone, our results suggest differential contributions of recognition speed and recollected knowledge to fluency heuristic-based decisions, whereas the recognition heuristic relies on familiarity.