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The Intuitive Use of Contextual Information in Decisions made with Verbal and Numerical Quantifiers

Liu, Dawn and Juanchich, Marie and Sirota, Miroslav and Orbell, Sheina (2020) 'The Intuitive Use of Contextual Information in Decisions made with Verbal and Numerical Quantifiers.' Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73 (4). 481 - 494. ISSN 1747-0218

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Abstract

Verbal and numerical formats (e.g., verbal: ‘low fat’, or numerical: ‘20% fat’) are used interchangeably to communicate nutritional information. However, prior research implies that verbal quantifiers are processed more intuitively than numerical ones. We tested this hypothesis in two pre-registered experiments measuring four indicators of processing style: (i) response time, (ii) decision performance, (iii) reliance on irrelevant contextual information, which we inferred from participants’ decision patterns, and (iv) the level of interference from a concurrent memory task. Participants imagined they had consumed a given amount of a nutrient (represented in a pie chart) and decided whether a new quantity (either verbal or numerical) could be eaten within their guideline daily amount (GDA). The experiments used a mixed design varying format (verbal or numerical), concurrent memory load (no load, easy, and hard load in Experiment 1; no load and hard load in Experiment 2), nutrient (fat and minerals), quantity (low, medium, and high in Experiment 1; low and high in Experiment 2), and the assigned correct response for a trial (within and exceeding limits). Participants were faster and made fewer correct decisions with verbal quantifiers, and they relied more on contextual information (i.e., the identity of the nutrient involved). However, memory load did not impair decisions with verbal or numerical quantifiers. Altogether, these results suggest that verbal quantifiers are processed intuitively, slightly more so than numerical quantifiers, but that numerical quantifiers do not require much analytical processing to reach simple decisions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: food decision-making; dual-process theories; verbal quantifiers; numerical quantifiers; intuition
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2020 13:07
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2020 09:56
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/27173

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