Theories of Choice and Decision

Psyc 707 Fall 2003, Monday 2:00 - 4:30
In the Electronic Teaching Theater (PLS 1129)

This course surveys the approaches in the psychology of individual decision making and choice behavior. Problems involving decision and choice will be posed in four ways:

In regard to the first question we will explore the mathematics of expected utility theory and game theory. The second question requires the empirical study of behavior and the development of psychological models to predict choice behavior. In the third question we will look at the cognitive shortcuts that help us make decision but also result in the fallibility of human judgment. Finally, in the last question we consider the use of decision analytic techniques, decision support systems, and computers as an interactive decision aid.

The course will be hosted in one of the electronic classrooms (Teaching Theaters) on campus and will make use of the hypermedia/interactive environment provided and the World Wide Web. Class time will be devoted to lecture, discussion, and class projects. Class projects will involve the development of practical applications of theories, the conducting short experiments on human decision making, or the development of decision aiding programs. Course grade will be based on a midterm exam, a final exam, and a paper.

Instructor: Dr. Kent L. Norman
Office: ZP3123F
Phone: 301/405-5924

Prereq: Psyc 602 (However, this can be waived for first year psychology graduate students and for students from other departments.

Texts: Hastie, R., & Dawes, R. M. (2001). Rational Choice in an Uncertain World: The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Plous, Scott (1993).The psychology of judgment and decision making. New York: McGraw Hill.
Assigned Readings (TBA)

Psyc 707: Theories of Choice and Judgment

H&D Ch 1
Personal Description

Overview of Behavioral Decision Theory
Reading 1
Discussion 1
What is Decision Making?
H&D Ch 2

Reading 2
Making Judgments
H&D Ch 3

Selective Perception and Cognitive Dissonance
Plous Ch 1 & 2
Decision Ability

Reading 3

Judgments from Memory
H&D Ch 4
Decision Scenario

Memory Biases
Plous Ch 3 & 11
Discussion 2

Reading 4

Anchoring and Adjustment
H&D Ch 5

Plous Ch 4 & 13
Discussion 3

Reading 5
Class Project Input
Judgment by Similarity
H&D Ch 6
Decision Tree

Representative Heuristic and Base Rates
Plous Ch 10 & 12

Reading 6

Judging by Scenarios and Explanations
H&D Ch 7

Plous Ch 19

Reading 7
Scale Frame
Midterm Exam

Randomness and Causation
H&D Ch 8 & 9

Rationality and Uncertainty
Plous Ch 14 & 15

Reading 8

Evaluating Consequences, Utility Theory and Prospect Theory
H&D Ch 10
Discussion 4

Behavioral Traps
Plous Ch 21

Reading 9

Preferences and Attitudes
H&D Ch 11

Plasticity and Wording
Plous Ch 5 & 6

Reading 10

A Normative, Rational Decision Theory
H&D Ch 12
Discussion 5

Expected Utility Theory & Paradoxes
Plous Ch 7 & 8
Expected Values

Reading 11

A Descriptive, Psychological Decision Theory
H&D Ch 13

Descriptive Models
Plous Ch 9

Reading 12

In Praise of Uncertainty
H&D Ch 14
Discussion 6

Self-Fulfilling Prophesies
Plous Ch 20
Decision Strategies

Reading 13

Presentation of Projects

Final Exam (1:30 - 3:30 PM)