Fast and frugal heuristics have been used to model decision making in applied domains very effectively, suggesting that they could be used to improve applied decision making. We developed a fast and frugal heuristic for infantry decisions using experts from the British Army. This was able to predict around 80% of their decisions using three cues. Next, we examined the benefits of learning to use the fast and frugal heuristic by training junior officers in the British Army to apply the heuristic and assessing their accuracy and mental workload when making decisions. Their performance was compared to a control condition of junior officers who applied standard military decision methods. Participants using the fast and frugal heuristic made decisions as accurately as participants in the control condition, but with reduced mental demand. This demonstrates that fast and frugal heuristics can be learnt, and are as effective as analytic decision methods.
Presenting information in a coherent fashion has been shown to increase processing fluency, which in turn influences affective responses. The pattern of responses have been explained by two apparently competing accounts: hedonic marking (response to fluency is positive) and fluency amplification (response to fluency can be positive or negative, depending on stimuli valence). This paper proposes that these accounts are not competing explanations, but separate mechanisms, serving different purposes. Therefore, their individual contributions to overall affective responses should be observable. In three experiments, participants were presented with businesses scenarios, with riskiness (valence) and coherence (fluency) manipulated, and affective responses recorded. Results suggested that increasing the fluency of stimuli increases positive affect. If the stimulus is negative, then increasing fluency simultaneously increases negative affect. These affective responses appeared to cancel each other out (Experiment 1) when measured using self-report bipolar scales. However, separate measurement of positive and negative affect, either using unipolar scales (Experiment 2) or using facial electromyography (Experiment 3), provided evidence for co-occurring positive and negative affective responses, and therefore the co-existence of hedonic marking and fluency amplification mechanisms.
Processing fluency has been shown to be flexible metacognitive cue for a range of judgements including truth, familiarity, and trust. Amongst these, affect judgements are of particular interest as 1) affect can be genuinely evoked by fluency, and 2) affect can be used as a cue for other judgements. However, there is disagreement towards the pattern of affective responses arising from fluency. The hedonic marking hypothesis (Winkielman, Schwarz, Fazendeiro, & Reber, 2003) suggests that fluency is fundamentally positive, whilst the fluency amplification account (Albrecht & Carbon, 2014) suggests that the affective response can be positive or negative, depending on (and congruent with) the valence of stimuli being exposed to. Whilst these accounts have been used as competing explanations, this thesis argues that they both contribute to overall affective responses in a novel multi-source account.
This thesis developed a novel set of business scenarios to manipulate fluency (using coherence) and valence (using risk). Evidence from three approaches is presented: 1) Meta-Analysis examining affective responses to fluency, with a sample of 108 publications (k = 591 effect sizes), 2) Five behavioural experiments, and 3) Facial electromyography (fEMG). Across these approaches, neither hedonic marking nor fluency amplification in isolation could account for the full pattern of results. Instead, results were explained by the combined contribution of the two models, as predicted by the multi-source account. The unique findings were uncovered by manipulating stimuli valence, as well as separately measuring positive and negative affect, an approach not previously investigated in the literature, thereby adding methodological, as well as theoretical, contributions to the literature on fluency effects. Implications for future research are to adopt a separate measurement approach to investigate wider judgement domains, whilst practical implications for business assessment and agenda setting are also discussed.