DFT-D: a cognitive-dynamical model of dynamic decision making

Jared M. Hotaling, Jerome R. Busemeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study of decision making has traditionally been dominated by axiomatic utility theories. More recently, an alternative approach, which focuses on the micro-mechanisms of the underlying deliberation process, has been shown to account for several “paradoxes” in human choice behavior for which simple utility-based approaches cannot. Decision field theory (DFT) is a cognitive-dynamical model of decision making and preferential choice, built on the fundamental principle that decisions are based on the accumulation of subjective evaluations of choice alternatives until a threshold criterion is met. This article extends the basic DFT framework to the domain of dynamic decision making. DFT-Dynamic is proposed as a new alternative to normative backward induction. Through its attention to the processes underlying planning and deliberation DFT-D provides simple, emergent explanations for violations of choice principles traditionally taken as evidence of irrationality. A recent multi-stage decision making study is used to showcase the model’s efficacy for developing cognitive models of individual strategies
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-80
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive models
  • dynamic decision making
  • dynamic consistency
  • planning
  • decision trees
  • sequential sampling
  • preferential choice
  • DFT


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