The effect of increasing the memorability of category instances on estimates of category size

Stephan Lewandowsky*, Paul W. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

According to Tversky and Kahneman's (1973) availability heuristic, people sometimes make use of the ease with which instances are retrieved when they have to estimate proportions or frequencies. One implication of this availability heuristic is that any factor that affects memorability of instances from a category should also affect the estimated category size. In one of their experiments, Tversky and Kahneman found that, after being presented with a list of names, people judged the more famous names to be more frequent. Similarly, recall was found to be greater for the more famous names. Three experiments that used Tversky and Kahneman's paradigm are reported. Repeating nonfamous names resulted in their increased recallability and a corresponding increase in estimates of their frequency (Experiments 1 and 3). Making nonfamous names more salient (Experiment 3) also had parallel effects on recallability and frequency estimates, indicating that different memory manipulations affected availability in a similar fashion. Furthermore, reliance on the heuristic was not changed as a function of prior knowledge (Experiment 2) or practice (Experiment 3)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-350
Number of pages4
JournalMemory and Cognition
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1983

Structured keywords

  • Memory

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