Authors: Martine Baldassi, Ye Li, Jing Qian, Eric J. Johnson, Elke U. Weber
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Detailed description of the measures used in this study
Decision Making measures
1) Framing (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979; Tversky & Kahneman, 1981)
Two different framing scenarios were used in this study. We used the classic
Asian disease problem (with the situation framed either as saving or losing
lives) and a layoff problem (with the situation either framed as the number of
factories kept open or shut down) to assess the effect of framing on the choices
of these two situations. In both scenarios the sure response option was
associated to a 100% chance to occur (i.e., 100% chance that 200 people will be
saved) and the risky option was associated with two outcomes having different
chances to occur (i.e., 33% chance that 600 people will be saved or 70% chance
that 0 people will be saved). DV = participants are consistent (1) or not (0)
in their choice preference independent of the frame (consistency with Expected
2) Loss Aversion (Tversky & Kahneman, 1992)
Our loss aversion task consisted in a titration method asking participants if
they were willing to play different gambles that involve both gains and losses
of different monetary amounts. For all the gambles there was an equal odd (50%
chance) of winning and of losing money. We have used two mixed gambles, one
with a smaller (gain amount = $6; loss amount varies from $0.5 to $7 in $0.5
increments) and one with a larger payoff (gain amount = $20; loss amount varies
from $2 to $24 in $2 increments). DV = loss aversion coefficient l (l=gain amount/loss amount).
3) Anchoring (Chapman & Johnson, 1999; 2002; Kahneman, Ritov, &
Schkade, 1999; Wilson, Houston, & Brekke, 1996)
This task provides an individual level measure of susceptibility to anchoring,
which is the tendency for estimations to be influenced by the presence of
arbitrary and irrelevant numerical values. In our study, each participant made
three numeric estimations on (1) the distance between New York and Cairo, (2)
the number of gallons of gas used by an average American family in one month,
(3) the height of the Washington Monument in Washington DC. Those estimation
questions were preceded either by a binary choice question, which asked whether
the estimation object is higher or lower than a given value (high or low
anchor), or not preceded by such a binary choice question (no anchor). DV =
percentile of high anchor minus percentile of low anchor.
4) Intertemporal Choice (Weber, Johnson, Milch, Chang, Brodscholl, &
In our study we have used two different versions of this task, delay and
acceleration, which differ in the way the choice situation is framed. In the
delay condition, participants were told that they could choose between having a
smaller gift certificate today or delay the consumption and have a larger gift
certificate in the future. In the accelerate condition, participants were told
that they could choose between a larger gift certificate in the future and a
smaller gift certificate today by accelerating the consumption. Besides the two
framing conditions, our intertemporal choice items differed in regards to the
outcome used (e.g., Amazon gift certificate or Paypal payment), the time period
between ‘today’ and the ‘future’ (e.g., 3 and 4 months) and the amounts of the
gift certificates. Like the loss aversion task, the intertemporal choice task
presented a series of choices in a titration format (11 choices per item). DV =
discounting is quantified as d = (x1/x2)(1/t)
(e.g., discount factor), where x1 is the amount received today that was
seen equivalent to the amount x2 received in time period t.
1) Alphabet Span (Craik, 1986): adapted from CREATE: Common Core Battery
of Measures (Czaja, Charness, Dijkstra, Fisk, Rogers, & Sharit, 2006;
Czaja, Charness, Fisk, Hertzog, Nair, Rogers, et al., 2006)
This task is used as a measure of verbal working memory capacity. In our
adapted version of this task, words appeared sequentially on the computer
screen. Participants were required to recall and type the words in alphabetical
order (different from the order the words appeared in on the screen).
Initially, only two words (e.g., level 1) had to be recalled correctly but the
number of words presented increased with the number of levels a participant
reached (e.g., level 2 = series of 3 words, level 3 = series of 4 words, etc.).
Each level consisted of 3 trials and participants had to remember all the words
of at least 2 trials in the right order to go on to the next level. DV = level
a participant was able to reach.
2) Cognitive Reflection Task (Frederick, Loewenstein, & O'Donoghue,
This test contains three mathematical questions that yield intuitive, impulsive
erroneous responses, which need to be overridden/inhibited to get the correct
answer. According to Frederick, the “three
items on the CRT are ‘easy’ in the sense that their solution is easily
understood when explained, yet reaching the correct answer often requires the
suppression of an erroneous answer that springs ‘impulsively’ to mind”
(Frederick, 2005, p. 27). DV = number of correct responses.
3) Numeracy (Lipkus, Samsa, & Rimer, 2001).
Numeracy is the ability to understand probability and mathematical concepts.
The numeracy task we have used in our study consisted of 11 questions that test
comprehension and manipulation of proportions, percentages and probabilities.
DV = number of correct responses.
All measures developed by
Lumos Labs (“lumosity, reclaim your brain”, www.lumosity.com)
4) Spatial 1-back
This task is frequently used to measure the capacity to update and actively
manipulate working memory contents (Del Messier, Maentylae, & Bruine de
Bruin, 2010). In contrast to these authors, the version of the task we employed
in our study is based on visuo-spatial information processing, not verbal
material. Participants were presented with three circles, two white and one
blue, which formed a triangle on the screen. In each trial they saw the same
triangle but the blue circle changed its location. From trial to trial
participants had to evaluate if the location of the blue circle was the same or
different from the trial before (1-back). DV = reaction time.
5) Stroop (Stroop, 1935).
In the Stroop task we have
used in this study, participants saw two words written on the screen. In each
trial, the word on the left was written in black and indicated the name of a
color (i.e., blue, green, red, etc.). On the right side of the screen, another
name of a color was printed in the same color as the semantic value of the
color name on the left of the screen (e.g., congruent trials) or in a different
color than the semantic value of that word (e.g., incongruent trials).
Participants had to judge as quickly as possible if the semantic value of the word
on the left side corresponded or not to the actual color the word on the right
side of the screen was printed in. DV = reaction time of incongruent trials -
reaction time of congruent trials.
6) Flanker (Eriksen & Eriksen, 1974)
In the Eriksen Flanker task participants are expected to respond to a centered
and directed item surrounded or flanked by distracting symbols. In our version
of the task, participants saw five birds in a row on their computer screen.
They had to pay attention to the bird in the middle (target) and indicate, by
pressing one of the four arrow keys, in which direction the target bird was flying.
In some of the trials, the additional four birds (two on the left and two on
the right) were flying in the same direction as the target/middle bird (e.g.,
congruent trials) and in other trials they were flying in a different direction
than the target/middle bird (e.g., incongruent trials). DV = reaction time of
incongruent trials - reaction time of congruent trials.
intelligence and Inhibitory control
7) Fragment Completion Task
Participants were given a combination of three letters representing the
beginning of a word. They had to complete this letter-fragment with legitimate
English words coming to their minds. Participants were not allowed to type two
words of the same length. There were a total of three trials, each showing a
different ‘3-letter’ combination and lasting 60 seconds. DV = number of correct
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