Choice Quality as a Function of Decision Accuracy and Search Cost

  • Reza Rastgoo Sisakht
  • Shabnam Mousavi
  • Rahimeh Negarandeh
  • Hamid Valizadegan
  • Maryam Noroozian
  • Mehdi Tehrani-Doost
  • Emran Mohammad Razaghid
Keywords: Cost-Benefit Calculations; Decision Process; Expected Value; Mouselab, Quality of Choice; Utility


Objective: A prominent challenge in modeling choice is specification of the underlying cognitive processes. Many cognitive-based models of decision-making draw substantially on algorithmic models of artificial intelligence and thus rely on associated metaphors of this field. In contrast, the current study avoids metaphors and aims at a first-hand identification of the behavioral elements of a process of choice.

Method: We designed a game in Mouselab resembling the real-world procedure of choosing a wife. 17 male subjects were exposed to cost-benefit decision criteria that closely mimic their societal respective conditions.

Results: The quality of choice index was measured with respect to its sensitivity to the final outcomes as well as process tracing of decisions. The correlation between this index and individual components of process tracing are discussed in detail. The choice quality index can be configured as a function of expected value and utility. In our sample the quality of choice with an average of 75.98% (SD: ±12.67) suggests that subjects obtained close to 76% of their expected gains.

Conclusion: The quality of choice index, therefore, may be used for comparison of different conditions where the variables of decision-making are altered. The analysis of results also reveals that the cost of incorrect choice is significantly correlated with expected value (0.596, sig = 0.012) but not with utility. This means that when sub-jects face higher costs prior to making a decision, there exists a corresponding higher expectation of gains, i.e., higher expected value.