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Poster D149

Discounting of Cognitive Effort and Ambiguity: Piloting A Novel Task Approach

Poster Session D - Monday, April 15, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Galston Wong1,2 (, Udaya Gyawali1,2, Harini Chenchalavahi1,2, Kendra Seaman1,2; 1The University of Texas at Dallas, 2Center for Vital Longevity

Prior research has found evidence of ambiguity aversion in tasks involving probabilistic and delay discounting. Specifically, people are more likely to prefer monetary options with exact risks and delays respectively, compared to ambiguous equivalent options. However, it is unknown if this is also observed in cognitive effort discounting. In this study, 24 young adult participants completed a non-verbal “word”-search task, followed by a two-choice effort discounting task for hypothetical monetary outcomes. In the cognitive experiential phase, participants completed a set of puzzles of various difficulty levels. They subsequently completed a decision-making phase with 108 experimental trials, choosing between a smaller reward-smaller effort (SSE) and a larger reward-larger effort (LLE) option. The trials differed by the magnitude of reward difference between the two options, the magnitude of the puzzles’ difficulty level differences between the two options, and the inclusion of ambiguity on the LLE option. Multilevel logistic regression models were used to examine the participants’ likelihood of accepting the LLE option. As predicted, participants were more likely to accept a larger effort option when the reward magnitude difference was higher. In contrast, they were less likely to accept a larger effort option when the difficulty level of the LLE option was much higher than the SSE option. In line with prior research, participants demonstrated ambiguity aversion in our cognitive effort discounting task, but only at higher difficulty level differences. This study also demonstrates the ability of our novel task to examine the influence of ambiguity on effort discounting.

Topic Area: THINKING: Decision making


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