Navigating conflict is integral to decision-making, serving a central role both in the subjective experience of choice as well as contemporary theories of how we choose. However, the lack of a sensitive, accessible, and interpretable metric of conflict has led researchers to focus on choice itself rather than how individuals arrive at that choice. Using mouse-tracking—continuously sampling computer mouse location as participants decide—we demonstrate the theoretical and practical uses of dynamic assessments of choice from decision onset through conclusion. Specifically, we use mouse tracking to index conflict, quantified by the relative directness to the chosen option, in a domain for which conflict is integral: decisions involving risk. In deciding whether to accept risk, decision makers must integrate gains, losses, status quos, and outcome probabilities, a process that inevitably involves conflict. Across three preregistered studies, we tracked participants’ motor movements while they decided whether to accept or reject gambles. Our results show that 1) mouse-tracking metrics of conflict sensitively detect differences in the subjective value of risky versus certain options; 2) these metrics of conflict strongly predict participants’ risk preferences (loss aversion and decreasing marginal utility), even on a single-trial level; 3) these mouse-tracking metrics outperform participants’ reaction times in predicting risk preferences; and 4) manipulating risk preferences via a broad versus narrow bracketing manipulation influences conflict as indexed by mouse tracking. Together, these results highlight the importance of measuring conflict during risky choice and demonstrate the usefulness of mouse tracking as a tool to do so.
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Fernandes, Thiago P.
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- PLOS ONE
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
Sleep loss has been shown to alter risk preference during decision-making. However, research in this area has largely focussed on the effects of total sleep deprivation (TSD), while evidence on the effects of sleep restriction (SR) or the potentially moderating role of sex on risk preference remains scarce and unclear. The present study investigated risky decision-making in 47 healthy young adults who were assigned to either of two counterbalanced protocols: well-rested (WR) and TSD, or WR and SR. Participants were assessed on the Lottery Choice Task (LCT), which requires a series of choices between two risky gambles with varying risk levels. Analyses on the pooled dataset indicated across all sleep conditions, participants were generally more risk-seeking when trying to minimise financial loss (LOSSES) than while trying to maximise financial gain (GAINS). On GAINS trials, female participants were more risk-averse during TSD and SR, whereas male participants remained unchanged. On LOSSES trials, female participants remained unchanged during TSD and SR, whereas male participants became more risk-seeking during TSD. Our findings suggest the relationship between sleep loss and risk preference is moderated by sex, whereby changes in risk preference after TSD or SR differ in men and women depending on whether the decision is framed in terms of gains or losses.
Adaptive decisions require that decision makers factor in the subjective values of different possible outcomes, and the probability of these outcomes occurring. Subjective values depend, among other things, on how far an outcome is away in time. This can be captured by assessing an individual’s delay discounting of different options. An individual’s risk preference also affects how attractive particular choice options appear to them. In humans, probability discounting and delay discounting are often related. People who show more risky behaviors also tend to be more impulsive and less patient. Based on such findings, single-process models of delay discounting and probability discounting have been suggested. In the current study, we tested if this relationship is equally present in chimpanzees, one of human’s closest extant evolutionary relatives. We presented 23 chimpanzees with a patience task and a risky-choice task. The patience task was designed to explicitly distinguish between delay preference and self-control (i.e., the ability to wait a given delay). Still, we found no strong correlations between risk and delay preferences. As this task has not been used with humans before, we implemented a computerized version and tested it in a sample of twenty adult participants. Initial results indicate that the task is well suited to capture patience, and it makes a promising candidate to be used in behavioral delay discounting experiments in humans.more » « less
This research addresses how younger and older adults’ decisions and evaluations of gains and losses are affected by the way in which monetary incentives are provided. We compared 2 common incentive schemes in decision making: pay one (only a single decision is incentivized) and pay all (incentives across all decisions are accumulated).
Younger adults (18–36 years; n = 147) and older adults (60–89 years; n = 139) participated in either a pay-one or pay-all condition and made binary choices between two-outcome monetary lotteries in gain, loss, and mixed domains. We analyzed participants’ decision quality, risk taking, and psychometric test scores. Computational modeling of cumulative prospect theory served to measure sensitivity to outcomes and probabilities, loss aversion, and choice sensitivity.
Decision quality and risk aversion were higher in the gain than mixed or loss domain, but unaffected by age. Loss aversion was higher, and choice sensitivity was lower in older than younger adults. In the pay-one condition, the value functions were more strongly curved, and choice sensitivity was higher than in the pay-all condition.
An opportunity of accumulating incentives has similar portfolio effects on younger and older adults’ decisions. In general, people appear to decide less cautiously in pay-all than pay-one scenarios. The impact of different incentive schemes should be carefully considered in aging and decision research.
Adolescents take more risks when peers monitor their behavior. However, it is largely unknown how different types of peer influence affect adolescent decision‐making. In this study, we investigate how information about previous choices of peers differentially influences decision‐making in adolescence and young adulthood. Participants (
N= 99, age range 12–22) completed an economic choice task in which choice options were systematically varied on levels of risk and ambiguity. On each trial, participants selected between a safer choice (low variability in outcome) and a riskier choice (high variability in outcome). Participants made choices in three conditions: a solo condition in which they made choices with no additional information, a social condition in which they saw choices of supposed peers, and a computer condition in which they saw choices of a computer. Results showed that participants’ choices conform to the choices made by the peers, but not a computer. Furthermore, when peers chose the safe option, late adolescents were especially likely to make a safe choice. Conversely, when the peer made a risky choice, late adolescents were least likely to follow choices made by the peer. We did not find evidence for differential influence of social information on decisions depending on their level of risk and ambiguity. These results show that information about previous decisions of peers are a powerful modifier for behavior and that the effect of peers on adolescents’ decisions is less ubiquitous and more specific than previously assumed.