Event Abstract

You Don't Want To Know What You're Missing: When Information about Forgone Rewards Impedes Dynamic Decision Making

  • 1 University of Texas, United States

In simple delay-of-gratification paradigms, diverting one’s attention from immediate rewards is an effective self-control strategy for refraining from short-term gains in order to maximize larger, long-term gains. These findings suggest that knowledge about foregone rewards (i.e., what could have been gained at each point by making a different choice) may impede long-term optimal decisions during intertemporal choice. We examined the effect of information about foregone rewards in a two-choice dynamic decision-making task in which short- and long-term gains were in conflict. In our task, participants made choices for real money. We found that providing veridical information about foregone rewards severely hindered participants’ ability to repeatedly make choices that maximize long-term rewards. In other words, we obtained a surprising pattern of results suggesting that the addition of relevant information in our task can lead to globally suboptimal choice patterns. We found that participants’ choice behavior is well characterized by a single Reinforcement-Learning (RL) mechanism that learns from both directly experienced and foregone rewards. This RL model predicts the deleterious effect of veridical information about foregone rewards. Further, individual differences in choice performance are elucidated by parameter fits, which lends support to the view that increased attention to foregone rewards accentuates the salience of immediate payoff differences between short- and long-term options.

Conference: Computations, Decisions and Movement, Giessen, Germany, 19 May - 22 May, 2010.

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Topic: Posters

Citation: Otto AR and Love BC (2010). You Don't Want To Know What You're Missing: When Information about Forgone Rewards Impedes Dynamic Decision Making. Front. Comput. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: Computations, Decisions and Movement. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnins.2010.01.00013

Received: 01 Feb 2010; Published Online: 01 Feb 2010.

* Correspondence: A. R Otto, University of Texas, Austin, United States, rotto@nyu.edu

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