Decisions from experience: Competitive search and choice in kind and wicked environments

Frey, Renato. (2020) Decisions from experience: Competitive search and choice in kind and wicked environments. Judgement and decision making, 15 (2). pp. 282-303.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/79533/

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Information search is key to making decision from experience: exploration permits people to learn about the statistical properties of choice options and thus to become aware of rare but potentially momentous decision consequences. This registered report investigates whether and how people differ when making decisions from experience in isolation versus under competitive pressure, which may have important implications for choice performance in different types of choice environments: in "kind" environments without any rare and extreme events, frugal search is sufficient to identify advantageous options. Conversely, in "wicked" environments with skewed outcome distributions, rare but important events will tend to be missed in frugal search. One theoretical view is that competitive pressure encourages efficiency and may thereby boost adaptive search in different environments. An alternative and more pessimistic view is that competitive pressure triggers agency-related concerns, leading to minimal search irrespective of the choice environment, and hence to inferior choice performance. Using a sampling game, the present study (N = 277) found that solitary search was not adaptive to different choice environments (M = 14 samples), leading to a high choice performance in a kind and in a moderately wicked environment, but somewhat lower performance in an extremely wicked environment. Competitive pressure substantially reduced search irrespective of the choice environment (M = 4 samples), thus negatively affecting overall choice performance. Yet, from the perspective of a cost-benefit framework, frugal search may be efficient under competitive pressure. In sum, this report extends research on decisions from experience by adopting an ecological perspective (i.e., systematically varying different choice environments) and by introducing a cost-benefit framework to evaluate solitary and competitive search - with the latter constituting a challenging problem for people in an increasingly connected world.
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Society & Choice > Cognitive and Decision Sciences (Mata)
UniBasel Contributors:Frey, Renato
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Society for Judgment and Decision Making
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Identification Number:
Last Modified:01 Nov 2021 14:13
Deposited On:01 Nov 2021 14:13

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