Fluency heuristic

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In psychology, a fluency heuristic is a mental heuristic in which, if one object is processed more fluently, faster, or more smoothly than another, the mind infers that this object has the higher value with respect to the question being considered.[1] In other words, the more skillfully or elegantly an idea is communicated, the more likely it is to be considered seriously, whether or not it is logical.


Jacoby and Dallas (1981) found that if an object “jumps out” at a person and is readily perceived, then they have likely seen it before even if they do not consciously remember seeing it.[2] Further evidence for the fluency heuristic was found by Hertwig, Herzog, Schooler, and Reimer (2008). They used word recognition tasks to show that participants could differentiate between objects’ respective retrieval fluencies, as predicted by the fluency heuristic, and that manipulating the fluency of a target produces a corresponding change in the participants’ recognition and inferences.[3] Volz, Schooler, and von Cramon (2005) used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study decisions involving the fluency heuristic. They found that such decisions coincided with activation in the Claustrum, which is thought to deal with the integration of perception and memory.[4]

See processing fluency.


  1. ^ Jacoby, Larry; Brooks, Lee (1984). "Nonanalytic cognition: Memory, perception and concept formation". 
  2. ^ Jacoby, Larry; Dallas, Mark (1981). "On the relationship between autobiographical memory and perceptual learning". Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 110 (3): 306–340. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.110.3.306. 
  3. ^ Hertwig, Ralph; Herzog, Stefan; Schooler, Lael; Reimer, Torsten (2008). "Fluency heuristic: A model of thow the mind exploits a by-product of information retrieval". Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 34 (5): 1191–1206. doi:10.1037/a0013025. 
  4. ^ Volz, Kirsten; Schooler, Lael; von Cramon, D. Yves (2010). "It just felt right: The neural correlates of the fluency heuristic". Consciousness and Cognition 3: 829–837. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2010.04.014.