The effect of context on decisions: Decision by sampling based on probabilistic beliefs

AbstractPrevious studies have shown that people’s decisions are affected even when they are provided with the same or analogous information by various contextual effects. In the present study, we analyzed decisions based on verbally expressed probabilistic expressions (verbal probabilities) and examined how contextual factors affected such decisions. In particular, we focused on the difference in contexts that produced different probabilistic beliefs on uncertain events. We hypothesized that such contextual effects could be explained in terms of Decision by Sampling (DbS) account (Stewart et al., 2006). In order to examine our hypothesis, we proposed a modified version of DbS, Decision by Belief Sampling (DbBS), and conducted behavioral experiment about decision making. In this experiment, we set different decision contexts that would be expected to produce different probabilistic beliefs on uncertain events, and examined how such difference would affect decision making. Results showed that decisions were significantly affected by the difference in contexts, and DbBS well explained such effects.

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