My research can be categorized under two branches, which can be summarized by two broad questions.
How do people make choices when the outcomes and their probabilities are uncertain?
Many choices that we make occur under uncertainty: The investor must choose a portfolio; the HR manager must recruit a new employee; the consumer must purchase a vehicle; the field manager must select the next game’s batting order.
The following projects represent my efforts to understand how people make choices when the outcomes and their probabilities are uncertain:
- When and how do preferences vary as a function of whether information is learned from a summary description or acquired from the personal experience of observing sampled outcomes over time? Collaborators: Ben Newell.
- What mathematical model can best capture how decision-makers integrate experiences into mental representations that can subsequently be used to make probability judgments and form preferences? Collaborators: Guy Hawkins, Ben Newell, and Scott Brown.
- Does the number of realizations a single choice will produce – for example, a doctor may choose between a risky treatment and a safer treatment for a single patient or a group of patients - influence decision maker’s preferences? Collaborators: Ben Newell.
- How do judgments and decisions vary across the lifespan? Collaborators: Anna McCarrey.
- How do people weight the strength of evidence (e.g., a product review score) relative to the weight of evidence (e.g., the number of reviews) differently in decisions made from description versus experience.
How do features of the choice architecture influence people’s judgments and choice?
Choices are never presented in a vacuum: rather, alternative choice options are always presented within a context. For example, the choice of which product to purchase might be made in the context of a consumer report. Importantly, the report’s writers will have constructed the “choice architecture” in terms of how many products were reviewed, what features were focused on, and how the products were rated.
The following projects represent my efforts to understand how features of the choice architecture influence people’s judgments and choice:
- How are people’s preferences influenced by changing the scale upon which information is presented? We have examined different ways of increasing scale size including aggregating over time, distance, and even other people. Collaborators: Rick Larrick.
- How are people’s preferences influenced by the presentation of multiple attribute translations (e.g., fuel consumed, cost of fuel, carbon emitted)? Collaborators: Christoph Ungemach, Rick Larrick, Elke Weber, Eric Johnson.
- What features of the choice environment encourage people to repeat pro-environmental behaviors rather than licencing immoral ones? Collaborators: Christoph Ungemach, Rick Larrick, Elke Weber, Eric Johnson.