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Structured, uncertainty-driven exploration in real-world consumer choice

Schulz, E; Bhuia, R; Love, BC; Brier, B; Todd, MT; Gershman, SJ; (2019) Structured, uncertainty-driven exploration in real-world consumer choice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 116 (28) pp. 13903-13908. 10.1073/pnas.1821028116. Green open access

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Abstract

Making good decisions requires people to appropriately explore their available options and generalize what they have learned. While computational models can explain exploratory behavior in constrained laboratory tasks, it is unclear to what extent these models generalize to real-world choice problems. We investigate the factors guiding exploratory behavior in a dataset consisting of 195,333 customers placing 1,613,967 orders from a large online food delivery service. We find important hallmarks of adaptive exploration and generalization, which we analyze using computational models. In particular, customers seem to engage in uncertainty-directed exploration and use feature-based generalization to guide their exploration. Our results provide evidence that people use sophisticated strategies to explore complex, real-world environments.

Type: Article
Title: Structured, uncertainty-driven exploration in real-world consumer choice
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1821028116
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1821028116
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: exploration,generalization, reinforcement learning,decision making
UCL classification: UCL
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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10079263
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