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The role of representation in experience-based choice


  • Adrian R. Camilleri
  • Ben R. Newell


Recently it has been observed that different choices can be made about structurally identical risky decisions depending on whether information about outcomes and their probabilities is learned by description or from experience. Current evidence is equivocal with respect to whether this choice ``gap'' is entirely an artefact of biased samples. The current experiment investigates whether a representational bias exists at the point of encoding by examining choice in light of decision makers' mental representations of the alternatives, measured with both verbal and nonverbal judgment probes. We found that, when estimates were gauged by the nonverbal probe, participants presented with information in description format (as opposed to experience) had a greater tendency to overestimate rare events and underestimate common events. The choice gap, however, remained even when accounting for this judgment distortion and the effects of sampling bias. Indeed, participants' estimation of the outcome distribution did not mediate their subsequent choice. It appears that experience-based choices may derive from a process that does not explicitly use probability information.

Suggested Citation

  • Adrian R. Camilleri & Ben R. Newell, 2009. "The role of representation in experience-based choice," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 4(7), pages 518-529, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:4:y:2009:i:7:p:518-529

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Craig R. Fox & Liat Hadar, 2006. ""Decisions from experience" = sampling error + prospect theory: Reconsidering Hertwig, Barron, Weber & Erev (2004)," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 1, pages 159-161, November.
    2. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    3. Liat Hadar & Craig R. Fox, 2009. "Information asymmetry in decision from description versus decision from experience," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 4(4), pages 317-325, June.
    4. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    5. Greg Barron & Eldad Yechiam, 2009. "The coexistence of overestimation and underweighting of rare events and the contingent recency effect," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 4(6), pages 447-460, October.
    6. Craig R. Fox & Amos Tversky, 1998. "A Belief-Based Account of Decision Under Uncertainty," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(7), pages 879-895, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Einav Hart & Yaakov Kareev & Judith Avrahami, 2012. "Reversal of Risky Choice in a Good versus a Bad World," Discussion Paper Series dp619, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.


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