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Behavioural and neural modulation of win-stay but not lose-shift strategies as a function of outcome value in Rock, Paper, Scissors

Behavioural and neural modulation of win-stay but not lose-shift strategies as a function of outcome value in Rock, Paper, Scissors

Authors: 
Lewis Forder, Benjamin James Dyson
Year: 
2016
Journal: 
Scientific Reports
Abstract: 

Competitive environments in which individuals compete for mutually-exclusive outcomes require rational decision making in order to maximize gains but often result in poor quality heuristics. Reasons for the greater reliance on lose-shift relative to win-stay behaviour shown in previous studies were explored using the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors and by manipulating the value of winning and losing. Decision-making following a loss was characterized as relatively fast and relatively inflexible both in terms of the failure to modulate the magnitude of lose-shift strategy and the lack of significant neural modulation. In contrast, decision-making following a win was characterized as relatively slow and relatively flexible both in terms of a behavioural increase in the magnitude of win-stay strategy and a neural modulation of feedback-related negativity (FRN) and stimulus-preceding negativity (SPN) following outcome value modulation. Thewin-stay/lose-shift heuristic appears not to be a unified mechanism, with the former relying on System 2 processes and the latter relying on System 1 processes. Our ability to play rationally appears more likely when the outcome is positive and when the value of wins are low, highlighting how vulnerable we can be when trying to succeed during competition.

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