How top-down and bottom-up attention modulate risky choices

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Importance

How much do we control our decisions? This study explores how relevant (top-down) and perceptual (bottom-up) characteristics govern the distribution of attention in risky choices. The results of participant choices, eye movements, and computer modeling analysis show that while salient perceptual characteristics may influence information acquisition, their influence on choice is limited to situations in which these characteristics are related to information. potential outcomes of the decision. When such characteristics are unrelated to the results, their influence is removed by top-down control. These results suggest, contrary to popular accounts, that perceptual salience may induce ascending effects of overt selection, but the perceived value of information is the crucial arbiter of intentional control over choice.

Abstract

We examine how bottom-up (or stimulus-driven) and top-down (or goal-driven) processes govern the distribution of attention in risky choices. In three experiments, participants chose between a certain payout and the chance of receiving a payout drawn at random from an array of eight numbers. We tested the hypothesis that the initial attention is driven by the perceptual properties of the stimulus (e.g., the font size of numbers), but the subsequent choice is focused on a goal (e.g., to gain the best outcome ). Two experiments in which task framing (goal-oriented) and font size (stimulus-stimulated) were manipulated showed that the gains with the highest values ​​and the largest font sizes had the greatest effect. greatest impact on choice. The third experiment added a large print number to the board, which could not be the result of the bet (i.e. a distractor). The eye movement and choice data indicated that although the distractor attracted attention, it had no influence on the choice of option. With computer modeling analyzes, the results suggest that perceptual salience may induce ascending effects of overt selection, but that the perceived value of information is the crucial arbiter of intentional control over risky choice.

Footnotes

  • Author contributions: research designed by YV, JMH and BRN; YV did some research; YV, JMH, MELP and BRN provided new reagents / analytical tools; YV analyzed the data; and YV, JMH, MELP and BRN wrote the article.

  • The authors declare no competing interests.

  • This article is a direct PNAS submission.

  • This article contains additional information online at https://www.pnas.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1073/pnas.2025646118/-/DCSupplemental.

Data availability

Behavioral data (responses and eye movements) and computer modeling codes have been deposited in the Open Science Framework, https://osf.io/54m3q/.


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