Pillars of Judgment: How Memory Abilities Affect Performance in Rule-Based and Exemplar-Based Judgments

Janina A Hoffmann, Bettina von Helversen, Jörg Rieskamp

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Making accurate judgments is an essential skill in everyday life. Although how different memory abilities relate to categorization and judgment processes has been hotly debated, the question is far from resolved. We contribute to the solution by investigating how individual differences in memory abilities affect judgment performance in 2 tasks that induced rule-based or exemplar-based judgment strategies. In a study with 279 participants, we investigated how working memory and episodic memory affect judgment accuracy and strategy use. As predicted, participants switched strategies between tasks. Furthermore, structural equation modeling showed that the ability to solve rule-based tasks was predicted by working memory, whereas episodic memory predicted judgment accuracy in the exemplar-based task. Last, the probability of choosing an exemplar-based strategy was related to better episodic memory, but strategy selection was unrelated to working memory capacity. In sum, our results suggest that different memory abilities are essential for successfully adopting different judgment strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2242-2261
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number6
Early online date6 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2014


  • episodic memory,judgment,rule-based and exemplar-based processes,working memory


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