Lab

The Center for Research on Improving Decision Making (CRIDM)

About the lab

The Center for Research on Improving Decision Making (CRIDM) is affiliated to the Wroclaw Faculty of Psychology at the SWPS University (Poland). The primary aim of CRIDM is to better understand basic psychological mechanisms underlying decision making. We are particularly focused on the role of emotional and cognitive factors (e.g., related to numerical cognition) in the decision-making process.

Importantly, we aim at applying the results of these basic research in the development and validation of methods (such as visual aids or cognitive training) that may help people make better decisions not only in laboratory settings but also in everyday life.

http://cridm.edu.pl

Featured projects (2)

Project
Every day we make various decisions that may result in consequences of different weights. For example, a trivial decision of whether to take an umbrella before leaving home or not becomes meaningful if we expect heavy rainfall. If our personal goal is to make a good impression during an interview for the desired job, the decision to take the umbrella on a cloudy day is simple, and we do not have to deliberate on its costs and benefits. However, if our personal goal is to have a good time with old friends, we may seriously consider whether it is worth carrying the cumbersome umbrella, at the same time accepting the risk of leaving it in a restaurant or getting wet on the way to the meeting. The main goal of the current project is to show that skilled decision makers (i.e., people with high statistical numeracy) are able to learn the importance of various choice problems (similar to those mentioned above), which allow them to select choice strategy adaptively and make superior decisions. We predict that people with high numeracy, in comparison to people with low numeracy, will employ and manifest recurring irrationality that would result in making superior decisions in the long run. Specifically, depending on the task structure, the characteristics of the environment, and personal goals, people with high numeracy will make a greater number of fast decisions based on heuristics when it pays off. That is, when a choice problem is perceived as trivial, they will make fast decisions, but at the same time, they will use a more comprehensive strategy and deliberate longer to solve personally meaningful choice problems. We hypothesize that even if decisions based on simple and fast heuristics are suboptimal according to normative standards, repeated satisfactory choices made within a limited time frame will lead to better overall outcomes than optimal choices predicted by rational choice theory. In this sense, the recurring irrationality is adaptively rational.
Project
Everyday decision making requires the processing of numbers regarding probabilities, costs and benefits. However, many people have difficulties, even when faced with simple numerical problems. It has been shown that statistical numeracy―the ability to understand the concept of probability and statistical information, and use this numerical information efficiently―is one of the strongest predictors of superior decision making. Interestingly, numeracy may not be a unitary construct limited only to the objective numerical abilities revealed in math-based tests. For example, Peters and Bjalkebring (2015) distinguished between multiple numeric competencies (objective numeracy, subjective numeracy, and approximate numeracy) which predict distinct decision outcomes. While objective numeracy is related to performance in mathematical tasks and formal knowledge about mathematical concepts, subjective numeracy is a combination of these objective abilities, math emotions, self-efficacy and the motivation to solve tasks containing numerical information. Approximate numeracy is related to a ‘sense of number’ – the intuitive ability to perceive and manipulate numerosities, and to map symbolic numbers to magnitudes. The main aim of this project is to experimentally validate the notion of multiple numeric competencies and to provide evidence that approximate numeracy and subjective numeracy can serve as sources of compensatory mechanisms that are potentially helpful in improving decision making among people with low numeracy. Project funded by the National Science Centre, Poland [grant number 2018/31/D/HS6/ 02899].

Featured research (36)

We conducted pre-registered replications of 15 effects in the field of judgment and decision making (JDM). We aimed to test the generalizability of different classical and modern JDM effects, including, among others: less-is-better, anchoring, and framing to different languages, cultures, or current situations (COVID-19 pandemic). Replicated studies were selected and conducted by undergraduate psychology students enrolled in a decision-making course. Two hundred and two adult volunteers completed an online battery of replicated studies. With a classical significance criterion (p < .05), seven effects were successfully replicated (47%), five partially replicated (33%), and three did not replicate (20%). Even though research materials differed from the originals in several ways, the replication rate in our project is slightly above earlier reported findings in similar replication projects. We discuss factors that may underlie replication results (success vs. failure). We also stress the role of open science practices such as open data, open research materials, pre-registration, and registered reports in improving the replicability of results in the JDM field.
In real-life situations involving risk and uncertainty, optimal policy hinges on selecting a course of action characterized by the highest expected value (i.e., future outcomes weighted by their probabilities). Nevertheless, a vast body of findings from economic and psychological studies indicate that people rarely follow this principle. The attempts to make optimal decisions are impeded by the complexity of a task and the computational capabilities of decision makers, often leading to suboptimal choices. Recent research has demonstrated that decision makers are systematically biased toward suboptimal options. However, little is known about the nature of this bias. Here we show that recurring suboptimal choices result in superior decision making. In one simulation study and three well-powered (N = 1,046) fully-incentivized empirical studies employing a task to mimic decision making under uncertainty, we demonstrated that people who traded off their decision accuracy for the number of possible choices performed better (i.e., they earned more money) than those who made optimal decisions in terms of maximizing the expected value. Our results demonstrate that decision makers can adapt to the requirements of a decision task. They are inclined to make more suboptimal decisions, resulting in better overall performance than normatively better choices.
In real-life situations involving risk and uncertainty, optimal policy hinges on selecting a course of action characterized by the highest expected value (i.e., future outcomes weighted by their probabilities). Nevertheless, a vast body of findings from economic and psychological studies indicate that people rarely follow this principle and make suboptimal choices. In the current research, we tested a hypothesis that recurring suboptimal choices result in superior decision making. In one simulation study and three well-powered (N = 1,046) fully-incentivized empirical studies, we demonstrated that people who traded off their decision accuracy for the number of possible choices performed better (i.e., they earned more money) than those who made optimal decisions in terms of maximizing the expected value. Our results demonstrate that decision makers can adapt to the requirements of a decision task. They are inclined to make more suboptimal decisions, resulting in better overall performance than normatively better choices.
In the present study, we used a neuroimaging technique (fMRI) to test the prediction that visualizing risky behaviors induces a stronger neural response in brain areas responsible for emotions and mental imagery than visualizing neutral behaviors. We identified several brain regions that were activated when participants produced mental images of risky versus neutral behaviors and these regions overlap with brain areas engaged in visual mental imagery, speech imagery and movement imagery. We also found that producing mental images of risky behaviors, in contrast to neutral behaviors, increased neural activation in the insula – a region engaged in emotional processing. This finding is in line with previous results demonstrating that the insula is recruited by tasks involving induction of emotional recall/imagery. Finally, we observed an increased BOLD signal in the cingulate gyrus (mid-cingulate area), which is associated with reward-based decision making and monitoring of decision outcomes. In summary, we demonstrated that mental images of risky behaviors, compared to risk-free behaviors, increased neural activation in brain areas engaged in mental imagery processes, emotional processing and decision making. These findings imply that the evaluation of everyday risky situations may originate in visualizing the potential consequences of risk taking and may be driven by emotional responses that result from mental imagery.
We conducted pre-registered replications of 15 effects in the field of judgment and decision making (JDM). We aimed to test the generalizability of different classical and modern JDM effects, including, among others: less-is-better, anchoring, and framing to different languages, cultures, or current situations (COVID-19 pandemic). Replicated studies were selected and conducted by undergraduate psychology students enrolled in a decision-making course. Two hundred and two adult volunteers completed an online battery of replicated studies. With a classical significance criterion (p < .05), seven effects were successfully replicated (47%), five partially replicated (33%), and three did not replicate (20%). Even though research materials differed from the originals in several ways, the replication rate in our project is slightly above earlier reported findings in similar replication projects.

Lab head

Jakub Traczyk
Department
  • Faculty in Wroklaw

Members (7)

Agata Sobków
  • SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities
Angelika Olszewska
  • SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supratik Mondal
  • SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities
Yehor Hrymchak
  • SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities
Marcin Surowski
  • SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities
Julia Mazur
  • SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities