CUED Publications database

Anticipation and choice heuristics in the dynamic consumption of pain relief.

Story, GW and Vlaev, I and Dayan, P and Seymour, B and Darzi, A and Dolan, RJ (2014) Anticipation and choice heuristics in the dynamic consumption of pain relief. PLoS Comput Biol, 11. e1004030-.

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Humans frequently need to allocate resources across multiple time-steps. Economic theory proposes that subjects do so according to a stable set of intertemporal preferences, but the computational demands of such decisions encourage the use of formally less competent heuristics. Few empirical studies have examined dynamic resource allocation decisions systematically. Here we conducted an experiment involving the dynamic consumption over approximately 15 minutes of a limited budget of relief from moderately painful stimuli. We had previously elicited the participants' time preferences for the same painful stimuli in one-off choices, allowing us to assess self-consistency. Participants exhibited three characteristic behaviors: saving relief until the end, spreading relief across time, and early spending, of which the last was markedly less prominent. The likelihood that behavior was heuristic rather than normative is suggested by the weak correspondence between one-off and dynamic choices. We show that the consumption choices are consistent with a combination of simple heuristics involving early-spending, spreading or saving of relief until the end, with subjects predominantly exhibiting the last two.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anticipation, Psychological Choice Behavior Computational Biology Female Heuristics Humans Male Models, Neurological Pain Pain Management
Divisions: Div F > Computational and Biological Learning
Depositing User: Cron Job
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2017 19:41
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2018 02:05