The authors investigated whether capacity for short term information storage influences the complexity of the choice process. To this end a study was conducted where participants 1) had to memorize a string of digits and then recognize a target digit which was either present or absent in the string (working memory (WM) task) and 2) had to choose one of four alternatives described on six dimensions (multi-attribute choice task). Subjects who decided longer and acquired more information before the decision were also more correct on the WM task, especially in the more demanding condition of exhaustive search. Additionally, for those subjects with the higher tendency to search pre-decisional information selectively the performance on WM task deteriorated more slowly with increasing memory load. These results point to the inverse relationship between the capacity to store information for a short time and the complexity of the process of decision making.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.