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Visual extrapolation under risk: human observers estimate and compensate for exogenous uncertainty

Visual extrapolation under risk: human observers estimate and compensate for exogenous uncertainty
Visual extrapolation under risk: human observers estimate and compensate for exogenous uncertainty
Humans commonly face choices between multiple options with uncertain outcomes. Such situations occur in many contexts, from purely financial decisions (which shares should I buy?) to perceptuo-motor decisions between different actions (where should I aim my shot at goal?). Regardless of context, successful decision-making requires that the uncertainty at the heart of the decision-making problem is taken into account. Here, we ask whether humans can recover an estimate of exogenous uncertainty and then use it to make good decisions. Observers viewed a small dot that moved erratically until it disappeared behind an occluder. We varied the size of the occluder and the unpredictability of the dot's path. The observer attempted to capture the dot as it emerged from behind the occluded region by setting the location and extent of a ‘catcher’ along the edge of the occluder. The reward for successfully catching the dot was reduced as the size of the catcher increased. We compared human performance with that of an agent maximizing expected gain and found that observers consistently selected catcher size close to this theoretical solution. These results suggest that humans are finely tuned to exogenous uncertainty information and can exploit it to guide action.
1471-2954
2171-2179
Warren, P.A.
53c174a4-9701-4c40-9b3d-053bf6ef0e7b
Graf, E.W.
1a5123e2-8f05-4084-a6e6-837dcfc66209
Maloney, L.T.
e7c2fede-257b-40a5-8b2c-a0512b64ae9e
Champion, R.A.
c039162b-a421-48cb-af81-88e10825f2a9
Warren, P.A.
53c174a4-9701-4c40-9b3d-053bf6ef0e7b
Graf, E.W.
1a5123e2-8f05-4084-a6e6-837dcfc66209
Maloney, L.T.
e7c2fede-257b-40a5-8b2c-a0512b64ae9e
Champion, R.A.
c039162b-a421-48cb-af81-88e10825f2a9

Warren, P.A., Graf, E.W., Maloney, L.T. and Champion, R.A. (2012) Visual extrapolation under risk: human observers estimate and compensate for exogenous uncertainty Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279, (1736), pp. 2171-2179. (doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.2527).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Humans commonly face choices between multiple options with uncertain outcomes. Such situations occur in many contexts, from purely financial decisions (which shares should I buy?) to perceptuo-motor decisions between different actions (where should I aim my shot at goal?). Regardless of context, successful decision-making requires that the uncertainty at the heart of the decision-making problem is taken into account. Here, we ask whether humans can recover an estimate of exogenous uncertainty and then use it to make good decisions. Observers viewed a small dot that moved erratically until it disappeared behind an occluder. We varied the size of the occluder and the unpredictability of the dot's path. The observer attempted to capture the dot as it emerged from behind the occluded region by setting the location and extent of a ‘catcher’ along the edge of the occluder. The reward for successfully catching the dot was reduced as the size of the catcher increased. We compared human performance with that of an agent maximizing expected gain and found that observers consistently selected catcher size close to this theoretical solution. These results suggest that humans are finely tuned to exogenous uncertainty information and can exploit it to guide action.

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Published date: 7 June 2012
Organisations: Cognition

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 207257
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/207257
ISSN: 1471-2954
PURE UUID: 8d2d3415-8cf8-4488-a677-4df19c696c02
ORCID for E.W. Graf: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3162-4233

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 11 Jan 2012 12:00
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 10:50

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Contributors

Author: P.A. Warren
Author: E.W. Graf ORCID iD
Author: L.T. Maloney
Author: R.A. Champion

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