HUJI Decision Making Lab

About the Lab

We explore judgment and decision making in various situations and aspects. We ask how people make decisions, and what influences these decisions. Our research projects (past, current and probably future) are quite varied. Here are some teasers from recent publications:

  • How do people decide how much to donate to a charitable cause? Or bid on an item?
  • People's tendency to be more generous towards identifiable victims than towards unidentifiable or statistical victims is known as the identifiable victim effect. In cross-national contexts, identifiability affects mostly willingness to help victims belonging to one's 'in-group' [...] In three experiments, employing hypothetical contributions as well as real monetary allocation in a dictator-game, we found that identifiability increased generosity towards a member of the adversary group, but it decreased generosity towards a member of one's own group.

    Providing arbitrary, non-identifying information about one's competition enhances one's goal-driven behavior: in competitive tasks, participants competing vs. merely identifiable counterparts displayed greater perseverance and performed better than participants whose counterparts were undetermined; in a dyadic bid setting, participants offered more money to outbid an identifiable counterpart for an auctioned product than an unspecified counterpart.

  • Are people affected by their previous outcome when making a subsequent decision?
  • We inspected repeated decision-making behavior in two versions of each of two decision-making tasks, an individual task and a strategic one. By regressing behavior onto the outcomes of recent decisions, we found that the upcoming decision was well predicted by the most recent outcome alone, with the tendency to repeat a previous action being affected both by its actual outcome and by the outcomes of actions not taken. We observed similar tendencies in various competitive situations as well.

  • How much do people choose to invest in competitive situations?
  • Competitions are ubiquitous, be it in schools, workplace promotions, legal battles or R&D races. These competitions often require investing nonrefundable resources which may be to the benefit of all, but may also be a sheer waste. It is thus important to understand what factors influence investment.
    We study several aspects of competitive situations, such as asymmetry among the contestants - due to differing resources or prize valuations; noise in the evaluation of investments and, in turn, in the determination of the winner; having to distribute one's investment to multiple battle fields rather than a single one. For example, we observed an effect of asymmetry only when it concerned resources: Subjects overall invested less when their resources were unequal, whereas inequality in the prizes did not influence investments; this pattern suggests that winning itself is motivating.

    Interesting, right? Check our publications for more information...

    Updated: 18/10/2014