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The Hare and the Tortoise: Emphasizing Speed Can Change the Evidence Used to Make Decisions


Rae, B and Heathcote, A and Donkin, C and Averell, L and Brown, S, The Hare and the Tortoise: Emphasizing Speed Can Change the Evidence Used to Make Decisions, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40, (5) pp. 1226-1243. ISSN 0278-7393 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 American Psychological Association

DOI: doi:10.1037/a0036801


Decision-makers effortlessly balance the need for urgency against the need for caution. Theoretical and neurophysiological accounts have explained this tradeoffsolely in terms of the quantity of evidence required to trigger a decision (the "threshold"). This explanation has also been used as a benchmark test for evaluating new models of decision making, but the explanation itself has not been carefully tested against data. We rigorously test the assumption that emphasizing decision speed versus decision accuracy selectively influences only decision thresholds. In data from a new brightness discrimination experiment we found that emphasizing decision speed over decision accuracy not only decreases the amount of evidence required for a decision but also decreases the quality of information being accumulated during the decision process. This result was consistent for 2 leading decision-making models and in a model-free test. We also found the same model-based results in archival data from a lexical decision task (reported by Wagenmakers, Ratcliff, Gomez, & McKoon, 2008) and new data from a recognition memory task. We discuss implications for theoretical development and applications.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Decision making; Evidence accumulation; Response time; Sequential sampling; Speed accuracy tradeoff
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:98932
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:126
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2015-03-10
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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