Navigating through abstract decision spaces: Evaluating the role of state generalization in a dynamic decision-making task

A. Ross Otto, Todd M. Gureckis, Arthur B. Markman, Bradley C. Love

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research on dynamic decision-making tasks, in which the payoffs associated with each choice vary with participants' recent choice history, shows that humans have difficulty making long-term optimal choices in the presence of attractive immediate rewards. However, a number of recent studies have shown that simple cues providing information about the underlying state of the task environment may facilitate optimal responding. In this study, we examined the mechanism by which this state knowledge influences choice behavior. We examined the possibility that participants use state information in conjunction with changing payoffs to extrapolate payoffs in future states. We found support for this hypothesis in an experiment in which generalizations based on this state information worked to the benefit or detriment of task performance, depending on the task's payoff structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)957-963
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Cite this