Probability matching in risky choice: The interplay of feedback and strategy availability

Ben R. Newell, Derek J. Koehler, Greta James, Tim Rakow, Don van Ravenzwaaij

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Probability matching in sequential decision making is a striking violation of rational choice that has been observed in hundreds of experiments. Recent studies have demonstrated that matching persists even in described tasks in which all the information required for identifying a superior alternative strategy-maximizing-is present before the first choice is made. These studies have also indicated that maximizing increases when (1) the asymmetry in the availability of matching and maximizing strategies is reduced and (2) normatively irrelevant outcome feedback is provided. In the two experiments reported here, we examined the joint influences of these factors, revealing that strategy availability and outcome feedback operate on different time courses. Both behavioral and modeling results showed that while availability of the maximizing strategy increases the choice of maximizing early during the task, feedback appears to act more slowly to erode misconceptions about the task and to reinforce optimal responding. The results illuminate the interplay between "top-down" identification of choice strategies and "bottom-up" discovery of those strategies via feedback.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-338
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • Decision making
  • Heuristics
  • Maximizing
  • Probability matching
  • Rational choice theory


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