Rapid decisions from experience

In many everyday decisions, people quickly integrate noisy samples of information to form a preference among alternatives that offer uncertain rewards. Here, we investigated this decision process using the Flash Gambling Task (FGT), in which participants made a series of choices between a certain payoff and an uncertain alternative that produced a normal distribution of payoffs. For each choice, participants experienced the distribution of payoffs via rapid samples updated every 50 ms. We show that people can make these rapid decisions from experience and that the decision process is consistent with a sequential sampling process. Results also reveal a dissociation between these preferential decisions and equivalent perceptual decisions where participants had to determine which alternatives contained more dots on average. To account for this dissociation, we developed a sequential sampling rank-dependent utility model, which showed that participants in the FGT attended more to larger potential payoffs than participants in the perceptual task despite being given equivalent information. We discuss the implications of these findings in terms of computational models of preferential choice and a more complete understanding of experience-based decision making.

Citation: Zeigenfuse, M. D., Pleskac, T. J., & Liu, T. (2014). Rapid decisions from experience. Cognition, 131(2), 181–194. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2013.12.012