College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-10-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Suzanne Bell

Second Advisor

Jaclyn Jensen

Third Advisor

Joseph Mikels


The allocation of resources is a ubiquitous decision making task. In the workplace, resource allocation, in the context of multiple task and/or work demands, is significantly related to task performance as the commitment of more resources generally results in better performance on a given task. I apply both resource and naturalistic decision making theories to better understand resource allocation behavior and related performance. Resource theories suggest that individuals have limited cognitive capacity: limited capacity may limit performance in dynamic situations such as situations that involve the allocation of attentional resources. Additionally, the naturalistic decision making framework highlights the role of context cues as key aids to effective decision making. Therefore, I proposed an interactive relationship between working memory, a cognitive resource, and allocation cue, a contextual variable. Specifically, I conducted an experimental study in which I manipulated allocation cue type and examined the individual difference of working memory on allocation behavior and task performance. I hypothesized a moderated-mediated effect including cue type, working memory, and proportion of time on task on task performance (i.e., accuracy and efficiency). The effect of cue type on both the proportion of time spent on task and task performance was expected to be contingent on working memory capacity. As working memory increased, both time on task and performance were expected to increase for participants exposed to either goal- or both task- and goal-related cues, as opposed to task cues. Conversely, as working memory decreased both time on task and performance were expected to increase for participants exposed to task cues in comparison to those exposed to either goal- or both task- and goal-related cues. Additionally, as proportion of time on task increased, performance was expected to improve. Results from this study did not find support for the hypothesized moderated-mediated effect. However, results indicated an effect of task cue on task efficiency. Specifically, individuals cued to allocate their attention based stimulus-related features (i.e., task cue) completed the task more quickly. Theoretical and practical implications as well as study limitations are discussed in detail.

SLP Collection