The Use of Heuristics in Intuitive Mathematical Judgment

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Vol. 15, pp. 1174-1178, 2008

22 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2008 Last revised: 17 Dec 2008

Date Written: November 4, 2008


Anecdotal evidence points to the use of beauty as an indication for truth in mathematical problem solving. Two experiments examined the use of heuristics and tested the assumption that participants use symmetry as a cue for correctness in an arithmetic verification task. We presented additions of patterns and manipulated symmetry of the patterns. Speeded decisions about their correctness led to higher endorsements of additions with symmetric patterns, both for correct and incorrect additions. Therefore, this effect is not due to the fact that symmetry facilitates calculation or estimation. We found systematic evidence for the use of heuristics in solving mathematical tasks and we discuss how these findings relate to a processing fluency account of intuition in mathematical judgment.

Keywords: Cognition, Heuristics, Judgment, Mathematical Intuition

Suggested Citation

Reber, Rolf, The Use of Heuristics in Intuitive Mathematical Judgment (November 4, 2008). Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Vol. 15, pp. 1174-1178, 2008. Available at SSRN:

Rolf Reber (Contact Author)

University of Bergen ( email )

Departmant of Biological and Medical Psychology
Jonas Lies vei 91, 8th floor
N-5009 Bergen, Hordaland N-5009
+47 55 58 31 81 (Phone)
+47 55 58 98 72 (Fax)


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