Decay Theory Of Memory


DECISION-MAKING THEORIES. = rational choice theory. Decision-making research, generally regarded as a subarea within the field of cognitive psychology, investigates the issue of how organisms make choices between alternatives where the major focus is on human decision-making. Decision theories and choice behavior theories seek to explain decision-making and vary from the highly formal mathematical approaches based on game theory [i.e., the decision-making process that takes account of the actions, and options for action, of another individual whose deci sions are in conflict with one's own; variations on the basic theory have been directed at studies of interpersonal interactions, economics, labor-management negotiations/disputes, and international diplomacy, and involves terms such as maximin - a game strategy that insures the best of the worst possible payoffs, thereby maximizing the minimum possible payoff; minimax - a game strategy that minimizes the maximum payoff to a co-player; zero-sum game - a two-person game, or competitive game, containing a scenario in which the sum of the players' payoffs is equal to zero in every outcome of the game; minimax theorem/principle - a basic game theory result which posits that every finite, competitive game has an "equilibrium point" or "Nash equilibrium," whereby a "best reply" strategy gives the player choosing it at least as good a payoff as any other strategy; and mixed strategy - for each of two players, the game-theoretic solution is a randomized 50-50 mixed strategy in a two-alternative situation that assigns equal probabilities to each alternative); probability theory (i.e., the discipline within mathematics that deals with probability and forms the basis for all the statistical techniques of psychology where, given a relatively small number of observations in an experimental setting, one needs to make decisions about the likelihood of such observations in the long run); classical strength theory (cf., Neimark & Estes, 1967); and utility theory (i.e., utility is taken as the value to an individual of arriving at a particular decision, playing a game according to a particular strategy, or making a particular choice, such as reflected in subjective expected utility situations where the utility of any choice between alternatives is given by the sum of the person's subjective probability estimates of each alternative multiplied by the utility value of each one; and extending to the more informal or intuitive theories that deal with beliefs, attitudes, and other subjective factors]. In the framing effect, described by the Israeli psychologists Amos Tversky (1937-1996) and Daniel Kahneman (1934- ), examination is made of the influence of the description, labeling, or framing/presentation of problems on decision-makers' responses; in prospect theory, as an alternative to expected utility theory, Tversky and Kahneman examine a theory of preferences among outcomes involving risks; according to prospect theory, people tend to evaluate outcomes as gains or losses relative to their current situation or the status quo rather than in terms of absolute value, and they tend to overweight very small probabilities and underweight moderate and high probabilities; also, they tend to attach greater weight to losses than to corresponding gains, and they tend to show "risk aversion" for gains by "risk seeking" for losses. In the endowment effect, people show the tendency to demand much more in order to give up an object than they are willing to pay to acquire it. Tversky and Kahneman also describe the conjunction fallacy/effect - as pervasive error in decisions and judgments whereby a combination of two or more attributes is judged to be more probable than either attribute when taken alone. In psychological decision theory, which is a normative and descriptive approach to decisions and judgments, the work of Tver-sky and Kahneman is complemented by the research of the American psychologists Sarah C. Lichtenstein (1933- ), Baruch Fischhoff (1946- ), and the American-based Israeli psychologist Paul Slovic (1938- ); the latter two researchers define the overconfidence effect as an unwarranted belief in the correctness of one's judgments or beliefs, and is assessed via confidence ratings indicating one's own estimates of the probability of being correct on testing materials; and the preference reversal effect, which is the tendency, when facing a choice between gambles of nearly equal expected values, to prefer one gamble but to place a higher monetary value on the other; such reversals occur when one gamble offers a high probability of winning a small prize and the other offers a low probability of winning a large prize. The American psychologist Clyde Hamilton Coombs (1912-1988) formulated portfolio theory that is a conjecture of decision-making under risk based on the "unfolding technique" (i.e., a method of scaling a set of stimuli without relying on any presupposed scale of measurement). The rational decision-making viewpoint assumes that people calculate the costs and benefits of various actions and choose the best alternative in a fairly logical and reasoned way [cf., the bounded ra tionality principle, described by the American economist/decision theorist Herbert A. Simon (1916-2001), and refers to the human cognitive capacities and decision processes that are not strictly rational in nature and are not guaranteed to produce optimal results; and the sure-thing principle, first described by the American decision theorist Leonard J. Savage (1917-1971), and refers to a situation in which an alternative X is judged to be as good as another alternative Y in all possible states of the world, and better than Y in at least one, then a rational decision-maker will prefer X to Y]. Rational or normative/prescriptive decision-makers choose the alternative that gives them the greatest benefit at the least cost. Typical of this approach is the behavioral decision theory or the expectancy-value theory (cf., W. D. Edwards, 1954) which argues that decisions are made on the basis of the product of two factors: the value of the various possible outcomes of the decision and the probability or likelihood that each outcome will actually result from the decision (cf., concordance decision-making method - this approach consists of three features: inclusion in which the decision is made by people who know the most about it in order to guarantee quality, and those who are most affected by it in order to guarantee proper implementation; control where everyone has equal power and everyone has a veto vote; and openness where everyone is open and honest to each other and to themselves). Theories of decision-making in the area of political psychology include conflict theory that emphasizes the emotionladen decisional conflicts, the various patterns of coping behavior common in such conflicts, the antecedents of coping patterns, and the various consequences for decisional rationality. Group decision-making may sometimes lead to the phenomenon called groupthink, first introduced by the American psychologist Irving L. Janis (1918-1990), which is an impairment in decision-making and sound judgment that may occur in highly cohesive groups with a strong, dynamic leader, and where group members isolate themselves from outside information, try to please the group leader, and agree on a decision even if it is irrational (cf., Delphi method/technique, named after the ancient Greek Delphic oracles who prophesized the future, is an approach developed in modern times by the Rand Corporation, and is employed in evaluation research for group decision-making where experts individually are presented with as much information as possible about a target issue; subsequently, the experts' recommendations are collected by a group facilitator who discloses them and attempts to achieve a group consensus concerning what is likely to occur in the future regarding the target issue). In the area of consumer purchasing behavior, and in regards to potentially irrational decisions, the iceberg principle, formulated by the Austrian-American motivational researcher and applied psychologist Ernest Dichter (1907-1992), refers to the notion that people - in purchasing merchandise - make some of their decisions based on unconscious goals and motives; the metaphor of the iceberg here is reminiscent of the Freudian dynamics regarding the presumed relationship between a person's conscious (rational) and unconscious (irrational) domains where a majority of the iceberg's mass is below the water line/surface (i.e., is mostly unconscious). Another group decision-making phenomenon is called the risky-shift or choice-shift effect, which reflects a more general process of "group polarization," and is defined as situations where people are more willing to support riskier decisions after taking part in a group discussion than they were before the discussion. Risky-shift may lead either to riskier or to more cautious decisions, depending on the initial views of group members. The risky-shift effect has been explained by the social comparison effect which is a cultural tendency for individuals to consider themselves at least as willing to take risks as their peers; and the persuasive argumentation effect which is a tendency in people to admire riskiness rather than caution, causing group members to be more willing to advance pro-risk than pro-caution persuasive arguments during group discussions [cf., risk aversion effect - a pervasive characteristic of human preferences, first noted by the Swiss mathematician/physicist Daniel Bernoulli (17001782) in 1738, whereby most people tend to value gains involving risk less than they do certain gains of equivalent monetary expectation; the corollary risk seeking effect - a ten dency among human decision-makers to prefer "risk-involvement losses" over "sure-thing losses" of equivalent monetary expectation; the winner's curse effect - a tendency for the highest bid at an auction to exceed the real or true market value of the auctioned object or prize, and is due, theoretically, to risk aversion among bidders where the average bid is usually less than the value of the auctioned object, but the winning bid usually exceeds the value of the object and illustrates the "winner's curse" such that "the winner is actually a loser;" and covariation theory - posits that when people attempt to determine the point or location of causality for a behavior, they seek to acquire information about the factors of consistency, distinctiveness, and consensus (cf., Kelley's covariation theory)]. In personal decision-making situations, the process frequently arouses postdecision dissonance or cognitive dissonance, which is the theoretical approach that assumes people have a drive toward consistency in their attitudes, beliefs, and decisions (cf., hindsight bias effect - the tendency for people, who know that a specific event has occurred, to overestimate, in hindsight, the probability with which they would have predicted the event in foresight). According to the cognitive dissonance approach, whenever one must decide between two or more alternatives, the final choice is, to some extent, inconsistent with some of the decision-maker's beliefs. That is, after the decision is made, all the good aspects of the unchosen alternative and all the bad aspects of the chosen alternative are dissonant with the person's decision. Theoretically, dissonance may be reduced by improving one's evaluation of the chosen alternative, because everything positive about it is consonant with the decision; dissonance may be reduced, also, by lowering the evaluation of the unchosen alternative, so that the less attractive it is, the less dissonance is aroused by rejecting it. Therefore, after people make decisions, there is a tendency for them to increase their liking for what they chose and to decrease their liking for that they did not choose. See also CONFLICT, THEORIES OF; EXPECTED UTILITY THEORY; FESTINGER'S COGNITIVE DISSONANCE THEORY; HAWK-DOVE/CHICKEN GAME EFFECTS; KELLEY'S CO-





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