Part-set cueing effects in a diagnostic setting with professional auditors

Ker-Wei Pei, Brad M. Tuttle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The aim of this research is to examine the generality of the part-set cueing effect, a well-known memory-inhibition phenomenon in basic research, to professional problem diagnosis. Three experiments were conducted. Experiment 1 examines whether part-set cueing affects the ability of auditors to recall diagnoses, and if so, whether memory inhibition is affected by the plausibility of the hypotheses. Experiment 2 examines whether the part-set cueing effect is sensitive to changes in the symptoms that drive the diagnosis and whether differences in inhibition occur because of prompt plausibility or because of target plausibility. Experiment 3 extends the findings of the first two experiments to hypothesis generation and discriminates between competing accounts for the part-set cueing effect. The results show that part-set cueing effects occur during hypothesis generation and that they are robust to changes in the symptoms. However, the results from the experiments reveal an asymmetric inhibition effect. Inhibition is significant when prompts contain low plausibility hypotheses that are also high in severity. When prompts consist of high plausibility or low severity hypotheses, no inhibition is observed. These findings are considered to be consistent with an editing account of the part-set cueing phenomenon. The implications of these findings to problem diagnosis and decision aids are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-256
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • Diagnosis
  • Hypotheses generation
  • Output interference
  • Part-set cueing
  • Problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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