Monday, February 25, 2013

How awareness changes...human decision making

Stanislas Dehaene was one of the researchers in the paper "How awareness changes the relative weights of evidence during human decision-making." Excerpts of the abstract follow:

"Human decisions are based on accumulating evidence over time for different options. Here we ask a simple question: How is the accumulation of evidence affected by the level of awareness of the information?... Our results indicate that the level of awareness of information changes decision-making: while accumulation of evidence already exists under low visibility conditions, high visibility allows evidence to be accumulated up to a higher level, leading to important strategical top-down changes in decision-making. Our results therefore suggest a potential role of awareness in deploying flexible strategies for biasing information acquisition in line with one’s expectations and goals."

And from the discussion:

"There has been ample speculation about the function of awareness, ranging from none whatsoever [51,52] to enabling social communication [53]. Our results suggest a potential role of awareness in biasing information processing, namely the strategic exploitation of information in line with prior expectations and
goals. This proposal fits with earlier hypotheses which link conscious access with flexible information processing, owing to the possibility of quickly circulating the conscious information to virtually all of the brain’s higher level processors [54–57]. It also fits with a role of consciousness in enabling 'meta-cognition,' the ability to introspect about self-performance, which also has been associated with high-level processing in the prefrontal cortex [58]. Here, this strategic biasing process showed clear behavioral and neural advantages: it sped up processing and reduced neural computations related to the decision process when enough evidence had already been accrued."

Just wondering, but it seems this could be a case, at least partially, for confirmation bias. We process evidence that fits our expectations and hence shut down new evidence quickly that doesn't fit, accounting for the speed. On the other hand, or 'lobe' as the case may be, the meta-cognitive function simultaneously allows for self-introspection, a required ingredient for overcoming confirmation bias according to Tavris. A double-edged sword, to be sure.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.