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Choice mechanisms for past, temporally extended outcomes.

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Vestergaard, Martin D 


Accurate retrospection is critical in many decision scenarios ranging from investment banking to hedonic psychology. A notoriously difficult case is to integrate previously perceived values over the duration of an experience. Failure in retrospective evaluation leads to suboptimal outcome when previous experiences are under consideration for revisit. A biologically plausible mechanism underlying evaluation of temporally extended outcomes is leaky integration of evidence. The leaky integrator favours positive temporal contrasts, in turn leading to undue emphasis on recency. To investigate choice mechanisms underlying suboptimal outcome based on retrospective evaluation, we used computational and behavioural techniques to model choice between perceived extended outcomes with different temporal profiles. Second-price auctions served to establish the perceived values of virtual coins offered sequentially to humans in a rapid monetary gambling task. Results show that lesser-valued options involving successive growth were systematically preferred to better options with declining temporal profiles. The disadvantageous inclination towards persistent growth was mitigated in some individuals in whom a longer time constant of the leaky integrator resulted in fewer violations of dominance. These results demonstrate how focusing on immediate gains is less beneficial than considering longer perspectives.



decision utility, experienced utility, neuroeconomics, suboptimal choice, Choice Behavior, Decision Making, Gambling, Humans, Models, Theoretical

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Proc Biol Sci

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The Royal Society
Wellcome Trust (093875/Z/10/Z)
Wellcome Trust (095495/Z/11/Z)
European Research Council (293549)
Wellcome Trust (093270/Z/10/Z)
This research was supported by the Wellcome Trust Grants 095495 and 093270 and European Research Council Advanced Grant ERC-2011-AdG 293549.