David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Cognitive Science 36 (3):498-516 (2012)
For decisions between many alternatives, the benchmark result is Hick's Law: that response time increases log-linearly with the number of choice alternatives. Even when Hick's Law is observed for response times, divergent results have been observed for error rates—sometimes error rates increase with the number of choice alternatives, and sometimes they are constant. We provide evidence from two experiments that error rates are mostly independent of the number of choice alternatives, unless context effects induce participants to trade speed for accuracy across conditions. Error rate data have previously been used to discriminate between competing theoretical accounts of Hick's Law, and our results question the validity of those conclusions. We show that a previously dismissed optimal observer model might provide a parsimonious account of both response time and error rate data. The model suggests that people approximate Bayesian inference in multi-alternative choice, except for some perceptual limitations.
|Keywords||Multi‐alternative choice Optimal observer Speed–accuracy tradeoff Bayesian Hick's Law Context effect|
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References found in this work BETA
Claude E. Shannon & Warren Weaver (1949). The Mathematical Theory of Communication. University of Illinois Press.
Ray Hyman (1953). Stimulus Information as a Determinant of Reaction Time. Journal of Experimental Psychology 45 (3):188.
Robert G. Pachella & Dennis Fisher (1972). Hick's Law and the Speed-Accuracy Trade-Off in Absolute Judgment. Journal of Experimental Psychology 92 (3):378.
Robert W. Brainard, Thomas S. Irby, Paul M. Fitts & Earl A. Alluisi (1962). Some Variables Influencing the Rate of Gain of Information. Journal of Experimental Psychology 63 (2):105.
D. J. Hale (1969). Speed-Error Tradeoff in a Three-Choice Serial Reaction Task. Journal of Experimental Psychology 81 (3):428.
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