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Sour grapes and sweet victories: How actions shape preferences


Vinckier, Fabien; Rigoux, Lionel; Kurniawan, Irma T; Hu, Chen; Bourgeois-Gironde, Sacha; Daunizeau, Jean; Pessiglione, Mathias (2019). Sour grapes and sweet victories: How actions shape preferences. PLoS Computational Biology, 15:e1006499.

Abstract

Classical decision theory postulates that choices proceed from subjective values assigned to the probable outcomes of alternative actions. Some authors have argued that opposite causality should also be envisaged, with choices influencing subsequent values expressed in desirability ratings. The idea is that agents may increase their ratings of items that they have chosen in the first place, which has been typically explained by the need to reduce cognitive dissonance. However, evidence in favor of this reverse causality has been the topic of intense debates that have not reached consensus so far. Here, we take a novel approach using Bayesian techniques to compare models in which choices arise from stable (but noisy) underlying values (one-way causality) versus models in which values are in turn influenced by choices (two-way causality). Moreover, we examined whether in addition to choices, other components of previous actions, such as the effort invested and the eventual action outcome (success or failure), could also impact subsequent values. Finally, we assessed whether the putative changes in values were only expressed in explicit ratings, or whether they would also affect other value-related behaviors such as subsequent choices. Behavioral data were obtained from healthy participants in a rating-choice-rating-choice-rating paradigm, where the choice task involves deciding whether or not to exert a given physical effort to obtain a particular food item. Bayesian selection favored two-way causality models, where changes in value due to previous actions affected subsequent ratings, choices and action outcomes. Altogether, these findings may help explain how values and actions drift when several decisions are made successively, hence highlighting some shortcomings of classical decision theory.

Abstract

Classical decision theory postulates that choices proceed from subjective values assigned to the probable outcomes of alternative actions. Some authors have argued that opposite causality should also be envisaged, with choices influencing subsequent values expressed in desirability ratings. The idea is that agents may increase their ratings of items that they have chosen in the first place, which has been typically explained by the need to reduce cognitive dissonance. However, evidence in favor of this reverse causality has been the topic of intense debates that have not reached consensus so far. Here, we take a novel approach using Bayesian techniques to compare models in which choices arise from stable (but noisy) underlying values (one-way causality) versus models in which values are in turn influenced by choices (two-way causality). Moreover, we examined whether in addition to choices, other components of previous actions, such as the effort invested and the eventual action outcome (success or failure), could also impact subsequent values. Finally, we assessed whether the putative changes in values were only expressed in explicit ratings, or whether they would also affect other value-related behaviors such as subsequent choices. Behavioral data were obtained from healthy participants in a rating-choice-rating-choice-rating paradigm, where the choice task involves deciding whether or not to exert a given physical effort to obtain a particular food item. Bayesian selection favored two-way causality models, where changes in value due to previous actions affected subsequent ratings, choices and action outcomes. Altogether, these findings may help explain how values and actions drift when several decisions are made successively, hence highlighting some shortcomings of classical decision theory.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Engineering
Dewey Decimal Classification:170 Ethics
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Physical Sciences > Modeling and Simulation
Physical Sciences > Ecology
Life Sciences > Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > Genetics
Life Sciences > Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Physical Sciences > Computational Theory and Mathematics
Language:English
Date:7 January 2019
Deposited On:04 Jun 2019 14:24
Last Modified:01 Jul 2021 14:30
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1553-734X
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006499
PubMed ID:30615615
Project Information:
  • : FunderFP7
  • : Grant ID260747
  • : Project TitleBIOMOTIV - Why do we do what we do? Biological, psychological and computational bases of motivation

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