Exploring Complexity in Decisions from Experience: Same Minds, Same Strategy


One frequent piece of advice is not to “put all our eggs in one basket” and opt for multiple alternatives in order to minimize risk and uncertainty in our decisions. In a behavioral study involving decisions-from-experience, Ashby, Konstantinidis, and Gonzalez (2015) showed that participants follow an “irrational” strategy in choice selection which departs from maximization. As structural complexity (number of available options) increased, participants diversified their choices more, proportional to rank ordering options based on their expected value. The current work explores the underlying cognitive mechanisms through a reinforcement-learning model and shows that people’s choices can be explained by a singular strategy (diversification in choice), which originates from similar cognitive processes regardless of structural complexity.

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