Title: Understanding information use in multi-attribute decision making
Advisor: Dr. Michael Dougherty
Abstract: An inference task in one in which some known set of information is used to produce an estimate about an unknown quantity. Existing theories of how humans make inferences include specialized heuristics that allow people to make these inferences in familiar environments quickly and without unnecessarily complex computation. Specialized heuristic processing may be unnecessary, however; other research suggests that the same patterns in judgment can be explained by existing patterns in encoding and retrieving memories. This dissertation compares and attempts to reconcile three alternate explanations of human inference. After justifying three hierarchical Bayesian version of existing inference models, the three models are com- pared on simulated, observed, and experimental data. The results suggest that the three models capture different patterns in human behavior but, based on posterior prediction using laboratory data, potentially ignore important determinants of the decision process.