Associative Thinking

Associative thinking is used to describe memory-based judgment processes that require the decision maker to infer a diagnosis or other category on the basis of the presence or absence of related features through the activation of associations—memories in which features and categories co-occur. Broadly speaking, the mind automatically associates in memory those experiences or concepts that co-occur. The decision maker later retrieves these associations (again, automatically, and typically unconsciously) in the performance of judgment and decision tasks. For example, when a pediatrician repeatedly sees children who present with persistent sore throat and fever and observes that they are often positive for strep throat, she or he may come to associate the symptoms and the diagnosis, and on the next presentation of a child with sore ...

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