The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

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

Record type: Article

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.

Full text not available from this repository.


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).

More information

Published date: 7 June 2012
Organisations: Cognition


Local EPrints ID: 207257
ISSN: 1471-2954
PURE UUID: 8d2d3415-8cf8-4488-a677-4df19c696c02
ORCID for E.W. Graf: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

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

Export record



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

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.