Most of our everyday decisions involve interactions with others. Those decisions result from our intrinsic motivations and our ability to reason and develop strategies. However, motivations and reasoning cannot be directly observed and it is usually difficult to infer cognitive choice processes from behavior itself. As a result, little is known about how we make decisions in strategic settings. Even less is known about the developmental trajectories of strategic decision-making from childhood to adulthood or, more broadly, the ability to develop strategies with repeated exposure. The objective of this project is to use novel methods to reveal the information people attend to before making choices, as an indirect measure of what people care and reason about. We also propose to explore differences in reasoning and to assess how strategies are learnt by comparing both the choices and the information attended by children vs. adults and by inexperienced vs. experienced (e.g. professional) players.

Many experiments have shown that people are typically limited in the extent to which they think strategically. Other experiments have demonstrated that decisions are not always driven by purely selfish motives. We propose to advance the understanding of the reasoning and motivations in strategic interactions by measuring both the information people attend to, and the choices they make. We will conduct three sets of experiments related to three environments in which anomalous behavior has been well documented (dynamic mutual trust games, dominance solvable games and dictatorial allocation mechanisms) and use a ?Mousetracking? technique to collect attentional data. By relating attention to choice, we will be able to better identify the theory that provides the best description of strategic decision-making in those environments. By comparing attention and behavior across populations, we will be able to assess how the ability to strategize develops and is learnt through exposure.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Seung-Hyun Hong
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University of Southern California
Los Angeles
United States
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