The dilution effect and information integration in perceptual decision making

Jared M. Hotaling, Andrew L. Cohen, Richard M. Shiffrin, Jerome R. Busemeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In cognitive science there is a seeming paradox: On the one hand, studies of human judgment and decision making have repeatedly shown that people systematically violate optimal behavior when integrating information from multiple sources. On the other hand, optimal models, often Bayesian, have been successful at accounting for information integration in fields such as categorization, memory, and perception. This apparent conflict could be due, in part, to different materials and designs that lead to differences in the nature of processing. Stimuli that require controlled integration of information, such as the quantitative or linguistic information (commonly found in judgment studies), may lead to suboptimal performance. In contrast, perceptual stimuli may lend themselves to automatic processing, resulting in integration that is closer to optimal. We tested this hypothesis with an experiment in which participants categorized faces based on resemblance to a family patriarch. The amount of evidence contained in the top and bottom halves of each test face was independently manipulated. These data allow us to investigate a canonical example of sub-optimal information integration from the judgment and decision making literature, the dilution effect. Splitting the top and bottom halves of a face, a manipulation meant to encourage controlled integration of information, produced farther from optimal behavior and larger dilution effects. The Multi-component Information Accumulation model, a hybrid optimal/averaging model of information integration, successfully accounts for key accuracy, response time, and dilution effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0138481
JournalPloS one
Volume10
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 25 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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