The Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences Colloquium Series presents

“Testing a Class of Models that Incudes Majority Rule and Regret Theories: Transitivity, Recycling, and Restricted Branch Independence”
with Michael H. Birnbaum, Department of Psychology, Cal State Fullerton

Thursday, October 16
4:00–5:00 p.m.
Social Science Plaza A, Room 2112

This talk reports six experiments comparing four classes of decision making models that make different predictions for tests of three diagnostic behavioral properties. These properties are transitivity of preference, recycling of intransitivity, and restricted branch independence. Two experiments tested decisions based on advice from friends, a situation in which majority rule was previously thought to apply. In both experiments, it was possible to reject the hypothesis that more than a small percentage of participants might have been consistent with majority rule. In four experiments with choices between gambles, researchers tested a very general family of models that includes majority rule and regret theory as special cases; these models not only allow but in certain cases require intransitive preferences and recycling, and they require that restricted branch independence must be satisfied. Two experiments used the fit of regret theory to previous data to predict where to search for violations of transitivity and recycling; no evidence was found to confirm these predictions; instead, a few participants showed the opposite pattern of intransitivity and recycling from that predicted by regret theory. Two experiments with monetary incentives used a new experimental design in which a general model (including regret aversion and advantage seeking) and the perceived relative arguments model (PRAM) must violate transitivity. Although a few participants might have shown intransitivity and recycling, most participants did not show the predicted response patterns required by these models. Combining results of six studies, researchers conclude that the family of models that includes regret theory, PRAM, and majority rule is not an adequate descriptive model of how people make decisions.  Instead, the data were best described by the transitive, configural weight averaging models.

For further information, please contact Joanna Kerner, or 949.824.8651.


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