Planning routes across economic terrains: Maximizing utility, following heuristics

Hang Zhang, Soumya V. Maddula, Laurence T. Maloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We designed an economic task to investigate human planning of routes in landscapes where travel in different kinds of terrain incurs different costs. Participants moved their finger across a touch screen from a starting point to a destination. The screen was divided into distinct kinds of terrain and travel within each kind of terrain imposed a cost proportional to distance traveled. We varied costs and spatial configurations of terrains and participants received fixed bonuses minus the total cost of the routes they chose. We first compared performance to a model maximizing gain. All but one of 12 participants failed to adopt least-cost routes and their failure to do so reduced their winnings by about 30% (median value). We tested in detail whether participants' choices of routes satisfied three necessary conditions (heuristics) for a route to maximize gain. We report failures of one heuristic for 7 out of 12 participants. Last of all, we modeled human performance with the assumption that participants assign subjective utilities to costs and maximize utility. For 7 out 12 participants, the fitted utility function was an accelerating power function of actual cost and for the remaining 5, a decelerating power function. We discuss connections between utility aggregation in route planning and decision under risk. Our task could be adapted to investigate human strategy and optimality of route planning in full-scale landscapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 214
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume1
Issue numberDEC
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Fingerprint

Economics
Costs and Cost Analysis
Heuristics
Fingers

Keywords

  • Bayesian decision theory
  • Decision making
  • Heuristics
  • Navigation
  • Optimality
  • Route selection
  • Utility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Planning routes across economic terrains : Maximizing utility, following heuristics. / Zhang, Hang; Maddula, Soumya V.; Maloney, Laurence T.

In: Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 1, No. DEC, Article 214, 2010.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{1dbede6a67f544918fbd67c411211e48,
title = "Planning routes across economic terrains: Maximizing utility, following heuristics",
abstract = "We designed an economic task to investigate human planning of routes in landscapes where travel in different kinds of terrain incurs different costs. Participants moved their finger across a touch screen from a starting point to a destination. The screen was divided into distinct kinds of terrain and travel within each kind of terrain imposed a cost proportional to distance traveled. We varied costs and spatial configurations of terrains and participants received fixed bonuses minus the total cost of the routes they chose. We first compared performance to a model maximizing gain. All but one of 12 participants failed to adopt least-cost routes and their failure to do so reduced their winnings by about 30{\%} (median value). We tested in detail whether participants' choices of routes satisfied three necessary conditions (heuristics) for a route to maximize gain. We report failures of one heuristic for 7 out of 12 participants. Last of all, we modeled human performance with the assumption that participants assign subjective utilities to costs and maximize utility. For 7 out 12 participants, the fitted utility function was an accelerating power function of actual cost and for the remaining 5, a decelerating power function. We discuss connections between utility aggregation in route planning and decision under risk. Our task could be adapted to investigate human strategy and optimality of route planning in full-scale landscapes.",
keywords = "Bayesian decision theory, Decision making, Heuristics, Navigation, Optimality, Route selection, Utility",
author = "Hang Zhang and Maddula, {Soumya V.} and Maloney, {Laurence T.}",
year = "2010",
doi = "10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00214",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "1",
journal = "Frontiers in Psychology",
issn = "1664-1078",
publisher = "Frontiers Media S. A.",
number = "DEC",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Planning routes across economic terrains

T2 - Maximizing utility, following heuristics

AU - Zhang, Hang

AU - Maddula, Soumya V.

AU - Maloney, Laurence T.

PY - 2010

Y1 - 2010

N2 - We designed an economic task to investigate human planning of routes in landscapes where travel in different kinds of terrain incurs different costs. Participants moved their finger across a touch screen from a starting point to a destination. The screen was divided into distinct kinds of terrain and travel within each kind of terrain imposed a cost proportional to distance traveled. We varied costs and spatial configurations of terrains and participants received fixed bonuses minus the total cost of the routes they chose. We first compared performance to a model maximizing gain. All but one of 12 participants failed to adopt least-cost routes and their failure to do so reduced their winnings by about 30% (median value). We tested in detail whether participants' choices of routes satisfied three necessary conditions (heuristics) for a route to maximize gain. We report failures of one heuristic for 7 out of 12 participants. Last of all, we modeled human performance with the assumption that participants assign subjective utilities to costs and maximize utility. For 7 out 12 participants, the fitted utility function was an accelerating power function of actual cost and for the remaining 5, a decelerating power function. We discuss connections between utility aggregation in route planning and decision under risk. Our task could be adapted to investigate human strategy and optimality of route planning in full-scale landscapes.

AB - We designed an economic task to investigate human planning of routes in landscapes where travel in different kinds of terrain incurs different costs. Participants moved their finger across a touch screen from a starting point to a destination. The screen was divided into distinct kinds of terrain and travel within each kind of terrain imposed a cost proportional to distance traveled. We varied costs and spatial configurations of terrains and participants received fixed bonuses minus the total cost of the routes they chose. We first compared performance to a model maximizing gain. All but one of 12 participants failed to adopt least-cost routes and their failure to do so reduced their winnings by about 30% (median value). We tested in detail whether participants' choices of routes satisfied three necessary conditions (heuristics) for a route to maximize gain. We report failures of one heuristic for 7 out of 12 participants. Last of all, we modeled human performance with the assumption that participants assign subjective utilities to costs and maximize utility. For 7 out 12 participants, the fitted utility function was an accelerating power function of actual cost and for the remaining 5, a decelerating power function. We discuss connections between utility aggregation in route planning and decision under risk. Our task could be adapted to investigate human strategy and optimality of route planning in full-scale landscapes.

KW - Bayesian decision theory

KW - Decision making

KW - Heuristics

KW - Navigation

KW - Optimality

KW - Route selection

KW - Utility

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84867077127&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84867077127&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00214

DO - 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00214

M3 - Article

C2 - 21833269

AN - SCOPUS:84867077127

VL - 1

JO - Frontiers in Psychology

JF - Frontiers in Psychology

SN - 1664-1078

IS - DEC

M1 - Article 214

ER -