Working-Memory Load and Temporal Myopia in Dynamic Decision Making
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We examined the role of working memory (WM) in dynamic decision making by having participants perform decision-making tasks under single-task or dual-task conditions. In 2 experiments participants performed dynamic decision-making tasks in which they chose 1 of 2 options on each trial. The decreasing option always gave a larger immediate reward but caused future rewards for both options to decrease. The increasing option always gave a smaller immediate reward but caused future rewards for both options to increase. In each experiment we manipulated the reward structure such that the decreasing option was the optimal choice in 1 condition and the increasing option was the optimal choice in the other condition. Behavioral results indicated that dual-task participants selected the immediately rewarding decreasing option more often, and single-task participants selected the increasing option more often, regardless of which option was optimal. Thus, dual-task participants performed worse on 1 type of task but better on the other type. Modeling results showed that single-task participants' data were most often best fit by a win-stay, lose-shift (WSLS) rule-based model that tracked differences across trials, and dual-task participants' data were most often best fit by a Softmax reinforcement learning model that tracked recency-weighted average rewards for each option. This suggests that manipulating WM load affects the degree to which participants focus on the immediate versus delayed consequences of their actions and whether they employ a rule-based WSLS strategy, but it does not necessarily affect how well people weigh the immediate versus delayed benefits when determining the long-term utility of each option.
author list (cited authors)
Worthy, D. A., Otto, A. R., & Maddox, W. T.