This post tries to do a little tying together on a familiar subject. I look at a couple of papers that provide more perspective than typical research papers provide. First is the preliminary dissertation of Anke Söllner. She provides some educated synthesis which my posts need, but rarely get. Two of her papers which are also part of her dissertation are discussed in the posts Automatic Decision Making and Tool Box or Swiss Army Knife? I also look at a planned special issue of the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making to address “Strategy Selection: A Theoretical and Methodological Challenge.”
Söllner’s work is concerned with the question: which framework–multiple strategy or single strategy– describes multi-attribute decision making best? In multi-attribute decision making we have to choose among two or more options. Cues can be consulted and each cue has some validity in reference to the decision criterion. If the criterion is an objective one (e.g., the quantity of oil), the task is referred to as probabilistic inference, whereas a subjective criterion (e.g., preference for a day trip) characterizes a preferential choice task. The multiple strategy framework is most notably the adaptive toolbox that includes fast and frugal heuristics as individual strategies. Single strategy frameworks assume that instead of selecting one from several distinct decision strategies, decision makers employ the same uniform decision making mechanism in every situation. The single strategy frameworks include the evidence accumulation model and the connectionist parallel constraint satisfaction model.
This post is based on the paper: “Single-process versus multiple-strategy models of decision making: Evidence from an information intrusion paradigm,” written by Anke Söllner, Arndt Bröder, Andreas Glöckner, and Tilmann Betsch. It appeared in Acta Psychologica in January 2014. It is a well done overview of multi-attribute decision models (Multi-attribute decision making deals with preferential choice e.g., “Which dessert do you like better?” and probabilistic inferences e.g., “Which dessert contains more calories?”), along with clever experiments. I am confused that it is single process vs multiple strategy. I would think that it would be process vs. process or strategy vs strategy.
This appears to me to be another polite skirmish in the continuing battle between fast and frugal heuristics and compensatory connectionist models. Do we change strategies or adjust decision thresholds or weights? However, the researchers have moved back to broader frameworks to get a different way to study and attack. This paper has an interesting group of authors. Sollner and Broder wrote a paper last year that looked at similar issues, but focused on the importance of looking separately at how information is acquired and how information is integrated. Glockner and Betsch are prime proponents of parallel constraint satisfaction theory– a single process model that apparently is weak on information acquisition. I will expect a Gigerenzer or Marewski counter move soon for the fast and frugal heuristics side. I should note that there seems to be much respect between those with differing views, and the idea that probably everyone is a little bit wrong and a little bit right seems to pervade.
This post looks at the paper “Do people learn option or strategy routines in multi-attribute decisions? The answer depends on subtle factors” authored by Arndt Bröder, Andreas Glöckner, Tilmann Betsch, Daniela Link, and Florence Ettlin (Acta Psychologica 143 (2013) 200–209). The researchers note that in their classic book on Einstellung effects, Luchins and Luchins (1959) demonstrated the robustness of maladaptive routinization in problem solving strategies. A specific strategy that had been successful in several trials was still used after changes in the environment that rendered simpler solutions available. Routinization even prevented many participants from finding simple solutions to new problems in which the routinized strategy could not be used. Hence, routinization may be beneficial in a stable task environment, but it may become detrimental in a changing world. It has been demonstrated that even experts fall prey to Einstellung effects, although their magnitude reduces for top-experts.
I, in a relatively clueless sense, have embraced the idea that automatic processes, intuitive, System 1, etc. make a lot of our decisions, especially that automatic processes are for output and deliberative processes are for input. (Intuition in J/DM) The paper titled: “Deliberation versus automaticity in decision making: Which presentation format features facilitate automatic decision making?” was written by Anke Söllner, Arndt Bröder, and Benjamin E. Hilbig and appeared in the May, 2013, issue of Judgment and Decision Making, tries to rain on my parade, at least a little.