You have probably made many decisions such as choosing a place to live, purchasing a plane ticket online, considering how to spend a holiday, or just buying a cup of coffee. Decision making is interesting because it involves making tradeoffs among one’s personal values (Would you prefer an inexpensive or an efficient plane route?), often in the face of great uncertainty (e.g., What’s the chance you will need to refund your ticket, or that ticket prices will drop?), towards trying to find the best course of action to fulfill one’s needs. What mental procedures do decision makers use in resolving tradeoffs? How do decision makers reason about probabilities? How does confidence guide commitment to a choice? What role does affect play in decision making? How do individuals differ in decision making skills? These are some of the many questions of interest to us in this lab.
We have a number of ongoing projects, united in their use of individual differences to inform us about human decision making more broadly. One project explores the fact that many people have a strong belief that they are decisive or indecisive decision makers. What does this mean? That is, what differentiates the decision processes of these two groups and what does this tell us about sources of confidence in choice? A second project focuses on temporal discounting, the tendency of people to experience a decline in the value of a reward with delay in its receipt. We are investigating electrophysiological correlates of discounting, including the extent to which they are related to individual differences in emotion regulation. A third project considers how people use explicit probabilities in decision making, investigating the consistency with which individuals transform probabilities during decision making and the source of these probability transformations.