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The attraction effect modulates reward prediction errors and intertemporal choices

Gluth, Sebastian and Hotaling, Jared M. and Rieskamp, Jörg. (2017) The attraction effect modulates reward prediction errors and intertemporal choices. Journal of Neuroscience, 37 (2). pp. 371-382.

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Abstract

Classical economic theory contends that the utility of a choice option should be independent of other options. This view is challenged by the attraction effect, in which the relative preference between two options is altered by the addition of a third, asymmetrically dominated option. Here, we leveraged the attraction effect in the context of intertemporal choices to test whether both decisions and reward prediction errors (RPE)-in the absence of choice-violate the independence of irrelevant alternatives principle. We first demonstrate that intertemporal decision making is prone to the attraction effect in humans. In an independent group of participants, we then investigate how this affects the neural and behavioral valuation of outcomes, using a novel intertemporal lottery task and fMRI. Participants' behavioral responses (i.e., satisfaction ratings) were systematically modulated by the attraction effect, and this modulation was correlated across participants with the respective change of the RPE signal in the Nucleus Accumbens. Furthermore, we show that since exponential and hyperbolic discounting models are unable to account for the attraction effect, recently proposed sequential sampling models might be more appropriate to describe intertemporal choices. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that the attraction effect modulates subjective valuation even in the absence of choice. The findings also challenge the prospect of using neuroscientific methods to measure utility in a context-free manner and have important implications for theories of reinforcement learning and delay discounting.; Many theories of value-based decision making assume that people first assess the attractiveness of each option independently of each other and then pick the option with the highest subjective value. The attraction effect, however, shows that adding a new option to a choice set can change the relative value of the existing options, which is a violation of the independence principle. Using an intertemporal choice framework, we test whether such violations also occur when the brain encodes the difference between expected and received rewards (i.e., the reward prediction error). Our results suggest that both intertemporal choice and valuation without choice do not adhere to the independence principle.
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Forschungsbereich Sozial-, Wirtschafts- und Entscheidungspsychologie > Decision Neuroscience (Gluth)
07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Forschungsbereich Sozial-, Wirtschafts- und Entscheidungspsychologie > Economic Psychology (Rieskamp)
UniBasel Contributors:Gluth, Sebastian and Hotaling, Jared and Rieskamp, Jörg
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Society for Neuroscience
ISSN:0270-6474
e-ISSN:1529-2401
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:24 Jan 2018 13:50
Deposited On:11 Oct 2017 10:12

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