Decision-making Under Uncertainty in the Cash Cab


Correspondence to: Matthew Kelley, Department of Psychology, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, IL 60035, USA.



Television game shows have long been used to analyze risk-taking behavior. We used episodes of Cash Cab to investigate how a variety of pre-game and in-game factors affected contestants' decisions to accept or reject a double-or-nothing gamble offered at the end of the game. As expected, the analysis confirmed the standard influences of gender, age, and group size on the willingness to accept the gamble. More interestingly, however, the data suggested that contestants also used in-game experiences to update their subjective probability of success when considering the final gamble. Surprisingly, contestants did not appear to use correct performance (e.g., number correct, and streaks of correct) when updating, but the number and distribution of highly confident and correct responses were important when assessing the final gamble. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.