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The fragile nature of contextual preference reversals: Reply to Tsetsos, Chater, and Usher (2015)


Trueblood, JS and Brown, SD and Heathcote, A, The fragile nature of contextual preference reversals: Reply to Tsetsos, Chater, and Usher (2015), Psychological Review, 122, (4) pp. 848-853. ISSN 0033-295X (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association

DOI: doi:10.1037/a0039656


Trueblood, Brown, and Heathcote (2014) developed a new model, called the multiattribute linear ballistic accumulator (MLBA), to explain contextual preference reversals in multialternative choice. MLBA was shown to provide good accounts of human behavior through both qualitative analyses and quantitative fitting of choice data. Tsetsos, Chater, and Usher (2015) investigated the ability of MLBA to simultaneously capture 3 prominent context effects (attraction, compromise, and similarity). They concluded that MLBA must set a "fine balance" of competing forces to account for all 3 effects simultaneously and that its predictions are sensitive to the position of the stimuli in the attribute space. Through a new experiment, we show that the 3 effects are very fragile and that only a small subset of people shows all 3 simultaneously. Thus, the predictions that Tsetsos et al. generated from the MLBA model turn out to match closely real data in a new experiment. Support for these predictions provides strong evidence for the MLBA. A corollary is that a model that can "robustly" capture all 3 effects simultaneously is not necessarily a good model. Rather, a good model captures patterns found in human data, but cannot accommodate patterns that are not found.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:decision making, multialternative choice, preference reversal, context effects, dynamic models
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Cognitive and computational psychology
Research Field:Decision making
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Heathcote, A (Professor Andrew Heathcote)
ID Code:103375
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:30
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2015-10-07
Last Modified:2017-11-15

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