Regulatory fit effects in a choice task Academic Article uri icon


  • This article examines the interface between motivation and choice. In category learning, a regulatory fit has been shown to increase exploration of alternative response strategies even when exploration is suboptimal. In the present study, promotion- and prevention-focused subjects performed a choice task that required them to choose from one of two decks of cards on each trial. They either gained or lost points with each draw. In Experiment 1, optimal performance required an exploratory response pattern that entailed sampling from a deck that initially appeared disadvantageous but ultimately became advantageous. In Experiment 2, optimal performance required an exploitative response pattern. A softmax action selection model that includes an exploitation parameter was applied to each subject's data from both experiments and revealed greater exploration of alternative strategies for people with a regulatory fit. This response strategy was optimal in Experiment 1 and led to superior performance, but was suboptimal in Experiment 2 and led to inferior performance.

author list (cited authors)

  • Worthy, D. A., Maddox, W. T., & Markman, A. B.

citation count

  • 50

publication date

  • December 2007