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Previous studies found mixed results concerning the role of working memory (WM) in the gambling task (GT). Here, we aimed at reconciling inconsistencies by showing that the standard version of the task can be solved using intuitive strategies operating automatically, while more complex versions require analytic strategies drawing on executive functions. In Study 1, where good performance on the GT could be achieved using intuitive strategies, participants performed well both with and without a concurrent WM load. In Study 2, where analytical strategies were required to solve a more complex version of the GT, participants without WM load performed well, while participants with WM load performed poorly. In Study 3, where the complexity of the GT was further increased, participants in both conditions performed poorly. In addition to the standard performance measure, we used participants’ subjective expected utility, showing that it differs from the standard measure in some important aspects.
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- Recruitment of intuitive versus analytic thinking strategies affects the role of working memory in a gambling task