Experiential and contextual heuristics in frequency judgement: Ease of recall and response scales

Frequency estimates can be based on a number of different heuristic strategies, of which we address two. First, we revisit Tversky and Kahneman's (1973) availability heuristic. The reviewed findings indicate that individuals only rely on the subjective experience of ease of recall when its informational value is not called into question and their processing motivation is low. When the experience is not deemed informative, or processing motivation is high, individuals draw on recalled content. These diverging strategies result in markedly different frequency estimates and related judgements. Second, we address what respondents learn from frequency scales provided by the researcher. The reviewed findings indicate that respondents extract information about the assumed distribution and use this information in arriving at frequency estimates and related judgements. We highlight the consistency of these findings with general models of human judgement and conclude with a discussion of strategy selection. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved) (from the chapter)