The recognition heuristic uses a recognition decision to make an inference about an unknown variable in the world. Theories of recognition memory typically use a signal detection framework to predict this binary recognition decision. In this article, I integrate the recognition heuristic with signal detection theory to formally investigate how judges use their recognition memory to make inferences. The analysis reveals that false alarms and misses systematically influence the performance of the recognition heuristic. Furthermore, judges should adjust their recognition response criterion according to their experience with the environment to exploit the structure of information in it. Finally, the less-is-more effect is found to depend on the distribution of cue knowledge and judges’ sensitivity to the difference between experienced and novel items. Theoretical implications of this bridge between the recognition heuristic and models of recognition memory are discussed.
Citation: Pleskac, T. J. (2007). A signal detection analysis of the recognition heuristic. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14(3), 379–391. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03194081.