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The Effects of Three Types of Visual Irrelevancy on Complex Decision Making

Landis, Daniel; Silver, Carl A.; Slivka, Robert M.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Office of Naval Research, Cognitive Processes, Decision Making, Field Dependence Independence, Redundancy, Responses, Visual Stimuli


The present study investigated the effects of visual information irrelevancy on complex decision making. Three types of irrelevancy were defined (clutter, noninformative irrelevancy and coding redundancy) and incorporated as independent variables in the research. Thirty male college Ss solved a set of static problems involving decision making with a known pay-off, but where the output would be difficult for S to accurately estimate. Results indicated that, under the conditions of this study, irrelevancy is facilitative for decision making and the more random the irrelevancy, the more adequate the solution. These findings are discussed within the framework of a theory that postulates that irrelevancy aids in the figure-ground articulation of the cognitive field.

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