KOPS - The Institutional Repository of the University of Konstanz

An Ecological Perspective on Decisions under Risk : How the Structure of the Environment Shapes Information Processing

An Ecological Perspective on Decisions under Risk : How the Structure of the Environment Shapes Information Processing

Cite This

Files in this item

Checksum: MD5:5516e209e2111cff694d90196be9bcb0

TIEDE, Kevin Erik, 2021. An Ecological Perspective on Decisions under Risk : How the Structure of the Environment Shapes Information Processing [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz

@phdthesis{Tiede2021Ecolo-57237, title={An Ecological Perspective on Decisions under Risk : How the Structure of the Environment Shapes Information Processing}, year={2021}, author={Tiede, Kevin Erik}, address={Konstanz}, school={Universität Konstanz} }

eng Tiede, Kevin Erik 2022-04-07T11:27:21Z 2021 An Ecological Perspective on Decisions under Risk : How the Structure of the Environment Shapes Information Processing Tiede, Kevin Erik 2022-04-07T11:27:21Z terms-of-use When people make decisions, the consequences of their choices are often not certain, but rather choices can lead to different outcomes, each with a different probability. In such decisions under risk, choices have been shown to not only depend on the available options but also on the environment they are made in. This dissertation aims to provide further insights into how the structure of the environment influences information processing in decisions under risk. Thereby, it focuses on both the way people learn about information and time constraints as features of the environment and studies decisions under risk in the basic and an applied domain. Further, the projects of this dissertation go beyond the examination of choice behavior by also studying response times and by implementing computational modeling. Together, the three research papers aim to answer open questions regarding the role of the environment in decisions under risk.<br />In Research Paper 1, we study the role of choice context in decisions under risk. Previous research has shown that people seem to evaluate risky options differently depending on whether they learn about them from a summary description or from drawing sequential samples from the payoff distribution (i.e., through experience). However, it is unclear how the learning mode of the alternative option influences the evaluation of an option. When choosing between a described and an experienced option, are options also evaluated differently within a choice or rather jointly? To answer this question, we compared people’s choice and search behavior in such a mixed condition with their behavior in a purely description- or experience-based condition. Using cumulative prospect theory to model choices and map people’s subjective representations of outcome and probability information, we found evidence for a joint subjective representation of outcomes and probabilities which differed from that in the purely description-based and purely experience-based conditions. Finally, per-option search effort in the mixed condition was higher than in the purely experience-based condition and was sensitive to features of the described option. In conclusion, these findings highlight the role of choice context and, specifically, the reciprocal influence of options and their respective learning mode when people construct preferences in risky choice.<br />In Research Paper 2, we investigate how adaptively people trade off the costs and benefits of time when there are opportunity costs of time. When making choices, deliberation time is often costly but also promises to improve decision making. We investigate to what extent people respond to the costs and benefits of time adaptively. Using the drift diffusion model as a computational framework, we first determined with computer simulations how boundary separations should be adaptively set in order to maximize payoffs depending on the differences in options’ value and the level of opportunity costs. Subsequently, we conducted three empirical experiments to study if people behave in accordance with the implications of the simulations. Across all experiments, participants did not adaptively take into account the level of opportunity costs and the differences in option value when making decisions. As a result, estimated boundary separations deviated from the optimal ones. In conclusion, people seem to have limited abilities to adjust their information processing adaptively to varying levels of value differences and opportunity costs.<br />In Research Paper 3, we study how much cognitive effort the processing of medical information requires depending on the presentation format. Previous research has shown that people understand the benefits and risks of treatments better when they are presented graphically (e.g., as icon arrays) than when numbers are used to communicate them. However, it is unclear how much cognitive effort the processing of the information in different formats requires and how effortful the comparison of treatments is if they are presented in different formats (i.e., inconsistently). The results of our preregistered experiment showed that answering knowledge questions with icon arrays (vs. numbers) required more cognitive effort. Further, having to compare inconsistently (vs. consistently) presented medications led to worse decisions and knowledge. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate the value of studying information processing in risk communication for understanding how, why, and under which conditions presentation formats improve medical decision making.<br />Studying decisions from different perspectives and in different domains, this dissertation provides comprehensive insights into the role of the environment in decisions under risk. By implementing novel research paradigms and using computational modeling, the research papers shed light onto how information processing is affected by the way information is presented and by constraints of time. More generally, the findings emphasize the importance of considering environmental features for a better understanding and ultimately improvement of human decision making.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Search KOPS


Browse

My Account