How many variables can humans process?

Halford, Graeme S., Baker, Rosemary, McCredden, Julie E. and Bain,John D. (2005) How many variables can humans process?. Psychological Science, 16 1: 70-76. doi:10.1111/j.0956-7976.2005.00782.x

Author Halford, Graeme S.
Baker, Rosemary
McCredden, Julie E.
Bain,John D.
Title How many variables can humans process?
Journal name Psychological Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0956-7976
Publication date 2005-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.0956-7976.2005.00782.x
Volume 16
Issue 1
Start page 70
End page 76
Total pages 7
Editor James E. Cutting
Place of publication Thousand Oaks, CA, U.S.A.
Publisher Sage Publications
Collection year 2005
Language eng
Subject C1
380101 Sensory Processes, Perception and Performance
751099 Communication not elsewhere classified
Abstract The conceptual complexity of problems was manipulated to probe the limits of human information processing capacity. Participants were asked to interpret graphically displayed statistical interactions. In such problems, all independent variables need to be considered together, so that decomposition into smaller subtasks is constrained, and thus the order of the interaction. directly determines conceptual complexity. As the order of the interaction increases, the number of variables increases. Results showed a significant decline in accuracy and speed of solution from three-way to four-way interactions. Furthermore, performance on a five-way interaction was at chance level. These findings suggest that a structure defined on four variables is at the limit of human processing capacity.
Keyword Psychology, Multidisciplinary
Prefrontal Cortex
Relational Complexity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 113 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 146 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 07:46:38 EST