ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2014, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (2): 205-219.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2014.00205

• Special Column for Decision-making Psychology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Process Test of Risky Decision Making: New Understanding, New Evidence Pitting Non-compensatory Against Compensatory Models

ZHANG Yang-Yang;RAO Li-Lin;LIANG Zhu-Yuan;ZHOU Yuan;LI Shu   

  1. Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2013-12-26 Online:2014-02-15 Published:2014-02-15
  • Contact: LI Shu


Decision making under risk is vital to human survival and development. How to make a risky choice is a compelling question facing scientists today. Mainstream theories of decision making under risk hold that risky choices are based on a compensatory expectation-maximizing process. Some researchers, however, argued that risky choice is based on a non-compensatory process, foregoing weighting and summing. People rely on only one (or a few) key dimension (s) rather than integrating information from all dimensions of an option for making a decision. To tackle this question and further our knowledge of the mechanism underlying human decision making, concrete and convincing evidence based on psychological process is required. Therefore, over the past decade, we designed and conducted a series of behavioral and neural experiments to systematically investigate the process of risky decision making. We organized and presented our experiments in line with the computation steps assumed by the expectation rule, that is, from the process of deriving probability functions, to weighting process, to weighting and summing process, and then to maximizing overall values. This review illustrates how these “independent” studies can help us to gradually understand the global process underlying risky choices, thereby providing psychology- and neuroscience-based theoretical foundations for establishing and stipulating risk related policies, laws, and regulations.

Key words: risky choice, decision process, compensatory rule, non-compensatory rule, eye-tracking, ERP, fMRI