NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1099319
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-May
Pages: 23
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Reasoning and Memory: People Make Varied Use of the Information Available in Working Memory
Hardman, Kyle O.; Cowan, Nelson
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v42 n5 p700-722 May 2016
Working memory (WM) is used for storing information in a highly accessible state so that other mental processes, such as reasoning, can use that information. Some WM tasks require that participants not only store information, but also reason about that information to perform optimally on the task. In this study, we used visual WM tasks that had both storage and reasoning components to determine both how ideally people are able to reason about information in WM and if there is a relationship between information storage and reasoning. We developed novel psychological process models of the tasks that allowed us to estimate for each participant both how much information they had in WM and how efficiently they reasoned about that information. Our estimates of information use showed that participants are not all ideal information users or minimal information users, but rather that there are individual differences in the thoroughness of information use in our WM tasks. However, we found that our participants tended to be more ideal than minimal. One implication of this work is that to accurately estimate the amount of information in WM, it is important to also estimate how efficiently that information is used. This new analysis contributes to the theoretical premise that human rationality may be bounded by the complexity of task demands.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Missouri
Grant or Contract Numbers: R01HD21338