Judgment & Decision Making

In these two closely-related fields of research, we examine how people judge objects or actions, which in turn can form the basis for a decision among them. For example, my estimate of what two dishes taste like, as well as their relative calorie content, can determine my choice. The question is particularly interesting if some information is conflicting and different attributes need to be weighed against each other. While early decision research was particularly interested in deviations from “optimal” models, today we (including our research group) are more interested in the cognitive processes that enable a judgement or decision (see Bröder & Hilbig, 2017).

Adaptive Decision Making

A wide range of studies now show that people do not make decisions according to a strict pattern, but that they seem to use different strategies depending on the contextual factors. For example, time pressure, increased information costs, or the need to retrieve information from memory often lead to the use of information-saving heuristics, while without these limitations one tends to consider information more extensively (e.g. Bröder, 2003; Bröder & Schiffer, 2003; Platzer & Bröder, 2012).

Heuristics, strategies or universal models?

An unresolved question or current controversy revolves around the question of whether this adaptive decision-making can indeed be explained as a change between different strategies, or whether instead a uniform decision-making process is at work, that can be adapted to different situations (Marewski et al., 2018). Such flexible universal mechanisms have in some situations proved to be better descriptions of the decision-making process than models that assume qualitatively different strategies (Glöckner & Bröder, 2011; 2014; Söllner & Bröder, 2016). However, there appear to be situations where models with multiple strategies are more appropriate (Söllner et al., 2013).

Information search before decisions

One of the “universal models” of decision making assumes that decisions are achieved by maximizing coherence, which is similar to gestalt psychological processes. This process can be mathematically formalized in a network model with activation spread. Recently, the model has been extended to information search and has provided novel predictions about the sequence in which people seek information about the decision problem (Jekel et al., 2018). The predictions have been confirmed for different contexts and question in particular the assumption of information search in heuristic decision making (Scharf et al., 2019).

Similarity based decisions

Especially in situations where it is difficult to generate a meaningful rule for the strategic integration of attributes, people occasionally seem to decide on the basis of the similarity of current decision-making situations to earlier situations, a process that has been called exemplar-based judgement. Indeed, it is possible to identify situations where such similarity-based strategies are used (Bröder et al., 2010; Platzer & Bröder, 2013), and there are indications that people may in fact use both rule-based and similarity-based processes simultaneously (Bröder, Gräf & Kieslich, 2017). Recent simulations show that modeling of example-based processes in judgment research has so far overlooked an important distinction, the inclusion of which leads better model parameter estimates (Izydorczyk & Bröder, submitted).

  • DFG-Projects

    • DFG-Project “Determinanten begrenzt rationaler Entscheidungsstrategien” (BR-DENK; Br 2130/1-1, Br 2130/1-2; 48 Months, January 2001- December 2004)
    • DFG-Project “Decisions from memory: factors influencing simple strategies and exemplar-based reasoning” (BR 2130/5-1, 24 Months, Start: July 2009)
    • DFG-Project “Coherence-Based Reasoning and Rationality: A Neural Network Modelling Approach to Decision Making” (together with A. Glöckner, Bonn; BR 2130/8-1; 36 Months, Start: Jan 2012)
    • DFG-Project “Intuitive and Deliberate processes in memory-based decisions” (BR 2130/9-1; 36 months; Start: July 2013)
    • DFG-Project “Coherence-based reasoning: Modelling attention and information search” (BR 2130/13-1, together with A. Glöckner, Hagen)
  • Literature

    • Bröder, A. (2000). Assessing the empirical validity of the “Take The Best”-heuristic as a model of human probabilistic inference. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 26, 1332-1346.
    • Bröder, A., Gräf, M., & Kieslich, P. (2017). Measuring the relative contributions of rule-based and exemplar-based processes in judgment: Validation of a simple model. Judgment and Decision Making, 12, 491-506.
    • Bröder, A., & Hilbig, B. E. (2017). Urteilen und Entscheiden. In J. Müsseler & M. Rieger (Hrsg.). Allgemeine Psychologie. (3. Auflage, S. 619-659). Heidelberg: Springer.
    • Bröder, A., Newell, B. R., & Platzer, C. (2010). Cue Integration vs. Exemplar-Based Reasoning in Multi-Attribute Decisions from Memory: A Matter of Cue Representation. Judgment & Decision Making, 5 (5), 326-338.
    • Bröder, A., & Schiffer, S. (2003). “Take The Best” versus simultaneous feature matching: Probabilistic inferences from memory and effects of representation format. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 132, 277-293.
    • Glöckner, A., & Bröder, A. (2011). Processing of recognition information and additional cues: A model-based analysis of choice, confidence, and response time. Judgment and Decision Making, 6, 23-42
    • Glöckner, A., & Bröder, A. (2014). Cognitive integration of recognition information and additional cues in memory-based decisions. Judgment and Decision Making, 9, 35-50.
    • Jekel, M., Glöckner, A., & Bröder, A. (2018). A new and unique prediction for cue-search in a parallel-constraint satisfaction network model: The attraction search effect. Psychological Review, 125, 744-768.
    • Marewski, J. N., Bröder, A., & Glöckner, A. (2018). Some metatheoretical reflections on adaptive decision making and the strategy selection problem. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 31(2), 181-198.
    • Platzer, C., & Bröder, A. (2012). Most people do not ignore salient invalid cues in memory-based decisions. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 19(4), 654-661.
    • Platzer, C., & Bröder, A. (2013). When the rule is ruled out: Exemplars and rules in decisions from memory. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 26, 429-441.
    • Scharf, S.E., Wiegelmann, M., & Bröder, A. (2019). Information search in everyday decisions: The generalizability of the attraction search effect. Judgment and Decision Making, 14(4), 488–512.
    • Söllner, A., & Bröder, A. (2016). Toolbox or adjustable spanner? A critical comparison of two metaphors for adaptive decision making. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 42(2), 215-237.
    • Söllner, A., Bröder, A., & Hilbig, B. E. (2013). Deliberation versus automaticity in decision making: Which presentation format features facilitate automatic decision making? Judgment and Decision Making, 8(3), 278-298.
    • Söllner, A., Bröder, A., Glöckner, A., & Betsch, T. (2014). Single-process versus multiple-strategy models of decision making: Evidence from an information intrusion paradigm. Acta Psychologica, 146, 84-96.