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A linear threshold model for optimal stopping behavior

Baumann, C; Singmann, H; Gershman, SJ; von Helversen, B; (2020) A linear threshold model for optimal stopping behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 117 (23) pp. 12750-12755. 10.1073/pnas.2002312117. Green open access

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Abstract

In many real-life decisions, options are distributed in space and time, making it necessary to search sequentially through them, often without a chance to return to a rejected option. The optimal strategy in these tasks is to choose the first option that is above a threshold that depends on the current position in the sequence. The implicit decision-making strategies by humans vary but largely diverge from this optimal strategy. The reasons for this divergence remain unknown. We present a model of human stopping decisions in sequential decision-making tasks based on a linear threshold heuristic. The first two studies demonstrate that the linear threshold model accounts better for sequential decision making than existing models. Moreover, we show that the model accurately predicts participants' search behavior in different environments. In the third study, we confirm that the model generalizes to a real-world problem, thus providing an important step toward understanding human sequential decision making.

Type: Article
Title: A linear threshold model for optimal stopping behavior
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2002312117
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2002312117
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: adaptive behavior, cognitive modeling, optimal stopping, sequential 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/10107858
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