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How combining description and experience influences the decision-making process

Cohen, Leonardo Weiss; (2017) How combining description and experience influences the decision-making process. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Decisions are often made using a combination of descriptive and experiential information. However most of the research in decision-making has either focused on the two paradigms separately, or compared them against each other, rarely combining the two sources of information within the same task. In my research, I will explore how descriptions and experience are integrated into the decision-making process when the two are available concurrently, and how each one influences decisions. I start by showing that descriptions are heavily discounted, with preference given to experiential information, which is easier and more natural to process cognitively. I then explore three moderators of the impact that descriptions have on decisions-from-experience. First, when descriptions are considered implausible, their influence on decisions is reduced. Second, when descriptions are too complex, they become too difficult to decipher, thus reducing their influence. And third, when individuals have more prior experience with a situation, the impact of descriptions is also reduced. Empirical results are supported by cognitive models of how individuals integrate their experience with descriptions, with different weights given to each source of information. Experience was the dominant source of information, but descriptions were taken into consideration, albeit at a discounted level, even after many trials. Models that included representations of the descriptive information fitted the human data more accurately than models that did not. This research has implications on the creation of effective warnings, which can be considered as descriptions which are added to our decision-making processes. More effective warnings can be created by making them plausible, of low complexity, and presented early before experience has been accumulated.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: How combining description and experience influences the decision-making process
Event: UCL
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10029060
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