Decomposing the roles of perseveration and expected value representation in models of the Iowa gambling task. Academic Article uri icon


  • Models of human behavior in the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) have played a pivotal role in accounting for behavioral differences during decision-making. One critical difference between models that have been used to account for behavior in the IGT is the inclusion or exclusion of the assumption that participants tend to persevere, or stay with the same option over consecutive trials. Models that allow for this assumption include win-stay-lose-shift (WSLS) models and reinforcement learning (RL) models that include a decay learning rule where expected values for each option decay as they are chosen less often. One shortcoming of RL models that have included decay rules is that the tendency to persevere by sticking with the same option has been conflated with the tendency to select the option with the highest expected value because a single term is used to represent both of these tendencies. In the current work we isolate the tendencies to perseverate and to select the option with the highest expected value by including them as separate terms in a Value-Plus-Perseveration (VPP) RL model. Overall the VPP model provides a better fit to data from a large group of participants than models that include a single term to account for both perseveration and the representation of expected value. Simulations of each model show that the VPP model's simulated choices most closely resemble the decision-making behavior of human subjects. In addition, we also find that parameter estimates of loss aversion are more strongly correlated with performance when perseverative tendencies and expected value representations are decomposed as separate terms within the model. The results suggest that the tendency to persevere and the tendency to select the option that leads to the best net payoff are central components of decision-making behavior in the IGT. Future work should use this model to better examine decision-making behavior.

published proceedings

  • Front Psychol

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Worthy, D. A., Pang, B. o., & Byrne, K. A.

citation count

  • 67

complete list of authors

  • Worthy, Darrell A||Pang, Bo||Byrne, Kaileigh A

publication date

  • October 2013