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Adaptation to recent outcomes attenuates the lasting effect of initial experience on risky decisions

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Éltetö,  N
Department of Computational Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Kóbor, A., Kardos, Z., Takács, Á., Éltetö, N., Janacsek, K., Tóth-Fáber, E., et al. (submitted). Adaptation to recent outcomes attenuates the lasting effect of initial experience on risky decisions.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-F627-8
Abstract
Both primarily and recently encountered information have been shown to influence experience-based risky decision making. The primacy effect predicts that initial experience will influence later choices even if outcome probabilities change and reward is ultimately more or less sparse than primarily experienced. However, it has not been investigated whether extended initial experience would induce a more profound primacy effect upon risky choices than brief experience. Therefore, the present study tested in two experiments whether young adults adjusted their risk-taking behavior in the Balloon Analogue Risk task after an unsignaled and unexpected change point. The change point separated early 'good luck' or 'bad luck' trials from subsequent ones. While mostly positive (more reward) or mostly negative (no reward) events characterized the early trials, subsequent trials were unbiased. In Experiment 1, the change point occurred after one-sixth or one-third of the trials (brief vs. extended experience) without intermittence, whereas in Experiment 2, it occurred between separate task phases. In Experiment 1, if negative events characterized the early trials, after the change point, risk-taking behavior increased as compared with the early trials. Conversely, if positive events characterized the early trials, risk-taking behavior decreased after the change point. Although the adjustment of risk-taking behavior occurred due to integrating recent experiences, the impact of initial experience was simultaneously observed. The length of initial experience did not reliably influence the adjustment of behavior. In Experiment 2, all participants became more prone to take risks as the task progressed, indicating that the impact of initial experience could be overcome. Altogether, we suggest that initial beliefs about outcome probabilities can be updated by recent experiences to adapt to the continuously changing decision environment.