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What cognitive processes drive response biases? A diffusion model analysis


  • Fabio P. Leite
  • Roger Ratcliff


We used a diffusion model to examine the effects of response-bias manipulations on response time (RT) and accuracy data collected in two experiments involving a two-choice decision making task. We asked 18 subjects to respond ``low'' or ``high'' to the number of asterisks in a 10x10 grid, based on an experimenter-determined decision cutoff. In the model, evidence is accumulated until either a ``low'' or ``high'' decision criterion is reached, and this, in turn, initiates a response. We performed two experiments with four experimental conditions. In conditions 1 and 2, the decision cutoff between low and high judgments was fixed at 50. In condition 1, we manipulated the frequency with which low- and high-stimuli were presented. In condition 2, we used payoff structures that mimicked the frequency manipulation. We found that manipulating stimulus frequency resulted in a larger effect on RT and accuracy than did manipulating payoff structure. In the model, we found that manipulating stimulus frequency produced greater changes in the starting point of the evidence accumulation process than did manipulating payoff structure. In conditions 3 and 4, we set the decision cutoff at 40, 50, or 60 (Experiment 1) and at 45 or 55 (Experiment 2). In condition 3, there was an equal number of low- and high-stimuli, whereas in condition 4 there were unequal proportions of low- and high-stimuli. The model analyses showed that starting-point changes accounted for biases produced by changes in stimulus proportions, whereas evidence biases accounted for changes in the decision cutoff.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabio P. Leite & Roger Ratcliff, 2011. "What cognitive processes drive response biases? A diffusion model analysis," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 6(7), pages 651-687, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:6:y:2011:i:7:p:651-687

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