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


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).

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Description/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.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.2527
ISSNs: 1471-2954 (print)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
ePrint ID: 207257
Date :
Date Event
7 June 2012Published
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2012 12:00
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 00:37
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/207257

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