Compatibility effects in the prescriptive application of psychological heuristics: Inhibition, Integration and Selection

Shashwat M. Pande, K. Nadia Papamichail, Peter Kawalek

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Recent studies have proposed the use of “fast and frugal” strategies as viable alternatives to support decision-processes in cases where time or other operational constraints preclude the application of standard decision-analytic methods. While a growing body of evidence shows that such procedures can be highly accurate, limited research has evaluated how well decision-makers can execute the prescriptive recommendations of aids based on such strategies in practice. Drawing on the behavioural, neuropsychological and decision-analytic literatures, we propose that an alignment between individual, model and task features will influence the effectiveness with which decision-makers can execute strategies that draw on prescriptive psychological heuristics – “fast and frugal” or otherwise. Our findings suggest that strategy execution is highly sensitive to task characteristics however, the effects of the number of alternatives and attributes on individuals’ ability to deploy a given strategy, differ in magnitude and direction depending on which decision-strategy is prescribed. A more compensatory decision-style positively affected overall task performance. Subjects’ ability to regulate inhibitory control was found to positively affect non-compensatory strategy execution, while having no discernible bearing on comparable compensatory tasks. Our findings reinforce that rather than an aspect of the prescriptive model, synergies between individual, model and task features are more instrumental in driving task performance in aided MCDM contexts. We discuss these findings in light of calls from OR scholars for the development of decision-aids that draw on prescriptive “fast and frugal” principles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)982-995
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Issue number3
Early online date30 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2021


  • Behavioural OR
  • Psychological heuristics
  • Compatibility effects
  • Multi-criteria decision analysis
  • Executive function
  • Multiple-criteria decision analysis


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