Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

Heuristics in the Context of Long-Form Short-Story Reading

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Mary Hare (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Richard Anderson (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Howard Casey Cromwell (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Sheri Wells-Jensen (Other)


This dissertation examined the operation of cognitive heuristics in short-story reading by incorporating two halo manipulations and two anchoring manipulations into passages of varying length. The main purpose of this dissertation is to test whether participants show anchoring effects or halo effects during long-form short-story reading the same way participants have shown in other cognitive tasks. Three experiments were conducted where participants were given either four 200-word passages (Experiment 1), four 700-word passages (Experiment 2), or a 3000-word short-story (Experiment 3). Each of the 200-word passages in Experiment 1 were expanded to create the passages in Experiment 2. The four passages in Experiment 2 were expanded and combined with a fifth section in Experiment 3. In Experiment 1 and Experiment 2, participants showed anchoring effects and halo effects in the predicted direction for three of the four manipulations. In Experiment 3, there were no observed effects in any of the four manipulations. Although this dissertation was not designed to draw any strong conclusion for not finding significance, the overall results imply that people relied on bottom-up heuristic processing during short passage reading, but decide a priori on a top-down algorithmic strategy for longer short-stories.