Small feedback-based decisions and their limited correspondence to description-based decisions



The present paper explores situations in which the information available to decision makers is limited to feedback concerning the outcomes of their previous decisions. The results reveal that experience in these situations can lead to deviations from maximization in the opposite direction of the deviations observed when the decisions are made based on a description of the choice problem. Experience was found to lead to a reversed common ratio/certainty effect, more risk seeking in the gain than in the loss domain, and to an underweighting of small probabilities. Only one of the examined properties of description-based decisions, loss aversion, seems to emerge robustly in these ‘feedback-based’ decisions. These results are summarized with a simple model that illustrates that all the unique properties of feedback-based decisions can be a product of a tendency to rely on recent outcomes. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.