School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Violeta Monzon Interian


PhD student



Project title: The effects of social information on decision making in a complex dynamic environment

Summary: While there have been studies concerning decision making in complex dynamic environments (Osman, 2012a; Osman, 2012b; Pearson, Watson & Platt, 2014), few studies have directly studied how social information affects performance on a decision making task, and especially in real world complex dynamic environments. The objective of this project is to investigate this issue, and provide answers as to how it is that humans use social information, the status of the communicator, as well as the source of information to guide their decision making in a complex dynamic environment. In other words, the critical question of the thesis is: How can different types of social information (including source and status) influence decision-making in a complex dynamic environment?

Some have suggested that, while there is limited work in the field, it is critical to the domain of complex dynamic decision making that empirical work is directed towards examining how different social information influences and change behavior in real world context, particularly as a means of supporting updating of decision-making strategies (Ruff and Fehr, 2014; Loewenstein, Asch & Volpp, 2013). Moreover, exploring how an individual uses social information would also make a significant contribution to the theoretical developments in behavioral and experimental economics that are focused explaining the role of social rewards and social cues as factors guiding choice behaviour (Chaparro, Murcia & Cardona, 2015). To achieve this, in the proposed project 6 large scale studies will be carried. They will examine the effect of social information on decision-making performance at different stages of exposure to the decision problem. The idea being that in many real world contexts people rely on social cues and social information at different times because of the dynamic nature of real world decision-making contexts; for instance, in management contexts staff may consider information from their peers or superiors as relevant to help them decide what to do. Moreover, in the proposed project different social information will be manipulated at different moments of the decision-making task, specifically, the type of social information, the status of the communicator and the source of information itself.