Research Topic

Modeling individual differences in perceptual decision making

About this Research Topic

In order to deal with the abundant amount of information in the environment to achieve our goals, human beings adopt a strategy to accumulate some information and filter out other information to ultimately make decisions. Since the development of cognitive science in the 1960s, researchers have been ...

In order to deal with the abundant amount of information in the environment to achieve our goals, human beings adopt a strategy to accumulate some information and filter out other information to ultimately make decisions. Since the development of cognitive science in the 1960s, researchers have been interested in understanding how human beings process and accumulate information for decision making. Researchers have conducted extensive behavioral studies and applied a wide range of modeling tools to study human behavior in simple-detection tasks and two-choice decision tasks (e.g., discrimination, classification).

In general, researchers often assume that the manner in which information is processed for decision making is invariant across individuals given a particular experimental context. Independent variables, including speed-accuracy instructions, stimulus properties (i.e., intensity), and characteristics of the participants (i.e., aging, cognitive ability) are assumed to affect the parameters in a model (i.e., speed of information accumulation, response bias) but not the way that participants process information (e.g., the order of information processing). Given these assumptions, much modeling has been accomplished based on the grouped data, rather than the individual data. However, a growing number of studies have demonstrated that there were individual differences in the perceptual decision process. In the same task context, different groups of the participants may process information in different manners. The capacity and architecture of the decision mechanism were found to vary across individuals, implying that humans’ decision strategies can vary depending on the context to maximize their performance.

The purposes of the research topic in Frontiers in Psychology are as follows:
(1) introduce information processing models, such as systems factorial technology, multinomial processing tree model, and diffusion model, that can or will be applied to model individual differences in perceptual decision making;
(2) compare and discuss the differences between the results of the group-level analysis and the individual-level analysis using a certain kind of modeling tool;
(3) unveil the individual differences (e.g., cognitive ability, aging, autism, psychosis, and so on) in the decision process using different perceptual tasks (e.g., multi-modality perception, face perception, multi-attribute stimulus classification, visual search, and so on).
In particular, this topic will address the context in which different sources of information interact and how they are accumulated and integrated for decision making, the amount of information that is required for decision making and whether it is dependent on the context, limitations in processing information and the extent to which those limitations depend on context, the factors that affect the perpetual decision process and individual differences observed in decision making.

We solicit original empirical work, modeling work or combined behavioral and modeling work that will provide researchers insights about perceptual decision making. We are also interested in review papers regarding the methodologies that will provide researchers useful tools to study individual differences in perceptual decision processes.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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