Stochastic matching and the voluntary nature of choice

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Stochastic matching and the voluntary nature of choice: Neuringer, A., Jensen, G., Piff, P. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 88, 1-28 (2007).

Abstract

Attempts to characterize voluntary behavior have been ongoing for thousands of years. We provide experimental evidence that judgments of volition are based upon distributions of responses in relation to obtained rewards. Participants watched as responses, said to be made by "actors," appeared on a computer screen. The participant's task was to estimate how well each actor represented the voluntary choices emitted by a real person. In actuality, all actors' responses were generated by algorithms based on Baum’s (1979) generalized matching function. We systematically varied the exponent values (sensitivity parameter) of these algorithms: some actors matched response proportions to received reinforcer proportions, others overmatched (predominantly chose the highest-valued alternative), and yet others undermatched (chose relatively equally among the alternatives). In each of five experiments, we found that the matching actor's responses were judged most closely to approximate voluntary choice. We found also that judgments of high volition depended upon stochastic (or probabilistic) generation. Thus, stochastic responses that match reinforcer proportions best represent voluntary human choice.

Responses

 Date"Date" is a type and predefined property provided by Semantic MediaWiki to represent date values.AuthorLead-in
Judgments of choice responding11 October 2007Michael DavisonNeuringer et al. believe their experiments can tell us something about what 'voluntary behavior' is. Davison disagrees...
Attempts to characterize voluntary behavioAttempts to characterize voluntary behavior have been ongoing for thousands of years. We provide experimental evidence that judgments of volition are based upon distributions of responses in relation to obtained rewards. Participants watched as responses, said to be made by "actors," appeared on a computer screen. The participant's task was to estimate how well each actor represented the voluntary choices emitted by a real person. In actuality, all actors' responses were generated by algorithms based on Baum’s (1979) generalized matching function. We systematically varied the exponent values (sensitivity parameter) of these algorithms: some actors matched response proportions to received reinforcer proportions, others overmatched (predominantly chose the highest-valued alternative), and yet others undermatched (chose relatively equally among the alternatives). In each of five experiments, we found that the matching actor's responses were judged most closely to approximate voluntary choice. We found also that judgments of high volition depended upon stochastic (or probabilistic) generation. Thus, stochastic responses that match reinforcer proportions best represent voluntary human choice.ons best represent voluntary human choice. +
Neuringer 2007 +
Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 88, 1-28 +
2007-Neuringer +
Stochastic matching and the voluntary nature of choice +
2007 +
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