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Decisions from Experience: From Monetary to Medical Gambles

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Lejarraga Tomás, Pachur Thorsten, Frey Renato, Hertwig Ralph,
Project Biological Foundations of Risk Taking
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Behavioral Decision Making
Volume (Issue) 29(1)
Page(s) 67 - 77
Title of proceedings Journal of Behavioral Decision Making


The description-experience gap refers to the robust finding that learning about uncertain options via description or experience results in systematically different choices. This gap has previously been studied primarily with monetary gambles. Here, we examine search and choice processes in decisions from experience involving medical outcomes (side effects of medication). We compare these processes both to decisions from experience involving monetary gambles and to decisions from description involving the same medical outcomes. As in the monetary domain, we found a description-experience gap in medical choices. Yet we also found four striking differences between medical and monetary choices. First, medical choices were significantly less consistent with the maximization of expected value than were monetary choices from description or experience. Second, medical choices gave rise to more strongly inverse S-shaped probability weighting functions in decisions from description and experience, suggesting considerably lower probability sensitivity in the medical than the monetary domain. Third, participants gathered considerably less information in medical than in monetary decisions from experience. Finally, we found that mini-max-a simple decision rule that aims to minimize the maximum possible loss-predicted medical choices substantially better than monetary choices, in decisions from both description and experience. Copyright (C) 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.