On the effect of perceived patterns in decisions from sampling

Cohen, Doron and Teodorescu, Kinneret. (2022) On the effect of perceived patterns in decisions from sampling. Decision, 9 (1). pp. 21-42.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/85583/

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Many real-life choices are based on previous experiences. Research devoted to these decisions from experience has typically employed static settings, where the probability of a given outcome is constant across trials. However, recent studies of repeated choice suggest that people tend to follow perceived patterns of outcomes even when true patterns do not exist (i.e., in static settings). Here we examine whether the tendency to follow perceived patterns above and beyond external incentives also characterize decisions from sampling. To this aim, we modified the static sampling paradigm to include a conspicuous sequence of outcomes while the incentive dictated disregarding the sequence. In two studies we found a strong tendency to follow the fixed pattern of outcomes. This tendency was evident not only in sampling choices where following the pattern required additional effort and did not provide additional information: The same tendency was observed on participant's final consequential choices, where following the pattern impaired financial returns. We replicated these results even after ensuring comprehension of the task, doubling the expected payoffs and also under partial feedback design. Overall, our results suggest that decisions from sampling, like repeated consequential choice, reflect a strong tendency to follow perceived environmental regularities. Our results are consistent with the assumption that during free sampling and during consequential choice, most participants respond to when (i.e., on which specific trials) each of the options is better rather than to which option is better overall (i.e., the option that implies a more attractive distribution of outcomes).
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Forschungsbereich Sozial-, Wirtschafts- und Entscheidungspsychologie > Economic Psychology (Rieskamp)
UniBasel Contributors:Cohen, Doron
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:American Psychological Association
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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edoc DOI:
Last Modified:05 Jul 2022 14:26
Deposited On:05 Jul 2022 14:24

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