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How choice ecology influences search in decisions from experience.

journal contribution
posted on 2012-09-01, 00:00 authored by Tomás Lejarraga, Ralph Hertwig, Cleotilde GonzalezCleotilde Gonzalez

Research into human decision-making has often sidestepped the question of search despite its importance across a wide range of domains such as search for food, mates, allies, visual targets or information. Recently, research on decisions from experience has made progress in finding out how individual characteristics shape search for information. Surprisingly little is known, however, about how the properties of the choice ecology shape people's search. To fill this void, we analyzed how two key ecological properties influence search effort: domain of choice (gains vs. losses) and experienced variance (variance vs. no variance). Many people search longer when facing the prospect of losses relative to gains. Moreover, most people search more in options in which they experience variance relative to options they experience as invariant. We conclude that two factors that have been identified as important determinants of choice also influence search of information.