טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentShtein Meshulami Rina
SubjectIncreased Sensitivity Following a Decision (or PDE-Post
Decision Exploration)
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisors Professor Ido Erev
Dr. Baruch Eitam


Abstract

Within the broad field of decision making, surprisingly little work has focused on post-decision processes. In this context, whether, in if so how, does attention change following a decision was also never directly investigated. The aim of the current study is first, to understand whether the post-decision phase affects attention deployment at all. Second, we want to examine how does the attentional pattern that characterizes the post-decision phase change in terms of broadening or narrowing the so called ‘focus’ of attention. By a narrow focus we mean processing only information that was perceived as relevant in the pre-decision phase and its broadening is defined as a processing being less relevance-constrained; with the latter change leading to a higher probability of detecting changes in the environment at the post-decision phase.

To empirically test the above, we created a paradigm modeled after previous by Eitam and colleagues which concerned the role of task relevance in information processing. Previous research has shown that when there is clear task relevance, task-relevant information is reported very successfully, while task irrelevant information is poorly or not processed.  Building on this, we assumed that any increase in processing of task irrelevant information will provide evidence to the effect of a decision on attention deployment.

Three experiments were conducted, using a paradigm that presented relevant and irrelevant - to task information; a single factor between-subject design was used, with three levels of the independent variable (Decision, Change, Control) -Decision group participants made a single decision, a Change group - in which participants experienced a change of the experimental environment (in the display, Experiment 2;  in the task, Experiment 3)but made no decision, and a control group in which participants merely continued to report on the relevant dimension. To measure the noticing of irrelevant information we used a surprising question about the irrelevant dimension. We expected that the participants in the Decision condition to be more accurate in reporting irrelevant information in comparison to other participants. The irrelevant information was either completely irrelevant (a stimulus’ color) and/or of “bounded- irrelevance” (forgone-payoff). The results show that indeed, making a decision influences the deployment of attention.

Specifically, information of bounded irrelevance (here, forgone payoffs) - that is information irrelevant to the task at hand but very weakly relevant to the decision (as the decision was a one shot and irreversible one) was by decision makers but the processing of completely irrelevant information was unaffected by making a decision.  These results, of deviation from task-relevance, provide support to the effect of a decision on attention deployment. However, more work is required pinpoint the exact nature of attentional deployment after a decision. The results inform both basic work on attention as well as consideration of decision environments designed to maximize the benefits of individuals.