Dr. Tom Cunningham, "Hierarchical Aggregation of Information and Decision-Making"

March 31, 2015 - 2:00pm - 3:30pm
311 Warren Hall
1125 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10027
United States


It is commonly argued that the brain aggregates information in a hierarchical fashion. I will discuss how hierarchical aggregation of information gives rise to predictable imperfections in inference, consistent with well-known features of perceptual illusions and decision biases. I demonstrate the basic results in a setup with two modules: both seek to infer some unobserved value, and each has private information, but the second module additionally observes the first module's posterior. As a whole this system will fail to aggregate information efficiently. In particular, it predicts two commonly observed features of decision-making: (1) the influence of irrelevant associations (framing effects), and (2) the avoidance of dominated options. I discuss experimental evidence for both features. This combination of properties is not predicted by either random utility or inattention.

This event is part of the Cognition and Decision Seminar Series and is jointly sponsored by the Program for Economic Research and the Center for Decision Sciences