Published on December 19, 2018 | Updated on January 29, 2019

CORTEX conference by Alexander Vostroknutov

April 29th, 2016

Observational learning and reasoning

We study experimentally the influence that observing choices of others has on participants' own learning rate and ability to understand the uncertain environment. In a very simple design, subjects make choices in a 2-armed bandit problem. They observe two pictures on the screen and choose between them in multiple trials. The probabilities of getting a reward from each option follow a random walk throughout the experiment. Sometimes, before making their choice, subjects also observe the choice of one other subject (but not the outcomes that the other has obtained). Subjects are aware that the other chooses in the same environment as they do. We are testing the adjacent hypotheses in an fMRI study with the same design. In a separate task we elicit reasoning abilities of the participants and try to understand how the information about reasoning ability of the person observed influences learning.