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Using hierarchical Bayesian methods to examine the tools of decision-making

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Hierarchical Bayesian methods offer a principled and comprehensive way to relate psychological models to data. Here we use them to model the patterns of information search, stopping and deciding in a simulated binary comparison judgment task. The simulation involves 20 subjects making 100 forced choice comparisons about the relative magnitudes of two objects (which of two German cities has more inhabitants). Two worked-examples show how hierarchical models can be developed to account for and explain the diversity of both search and stopping rules seen across the simulated individuals. We discuss how the results provide insight into current debates in the literature on heuristic decision making and argue that they demonstrate the power and flexibility of hierarchical Bayesian methods in modeling human decision-making.

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