Decision Making

How do we choose? Why do we choose? To what extent are our choices affected by external factors in the environment? We ask these questions and others through studying choice in adults, children, and nonhuman animals. For example, we have studied the decoy effect, in which the presentation of a third, typically unwanted option (such as the $6.50 popcorn) changes how you might feel about the other two options compared to when it is not present. In some cases, other animals show this decoy effect as well.

We also have studied the effects of having choices on performance. For example, monkeys prefer to play computer games in which they can choose the tasks in the order they complete them compared to being given those games in the same order, but without control over choosing them. This is “choice for choice” and reflects the value that animals place on having options.

Selected Related Publications:

Parrish, A. E., Evans, T. A., & Beran, M. J. (2015). Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) exhibit the decoy effect in a perceptual discrimination task.  Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 77, 1715-1725.NCBI Logo

Perdue, B. M., Evans, T. A., Washburn, D. A., Rumbaugh, D. M., & Beran, M. J. (2014). Do monkeys choose to choose?  Learning & Behavior, 42, 164-175. NCBI Logo

Klein, E. D., Evans, T. A., Schultz, N. B., & Beran, M. J. (2013). Learning how to “make a deal”: Human and monkey performance when repeatedly faced with the Monty Hall Dilemma. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 127, 103-108. NCBI Logo