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Title: The effect of numeracy and affect on adherence to rational choice principles in decisions under risk
Author: Taylor, Andrea Louise
Awarding Body: University of Bolton
Current Institution: University of Bolton
Date of Award: 2011
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The question of how affective state effects decision making has, in recent years, come to prominence in the field of decision research. The relationship between numeracy and choice, reasoning and judgement has also started to receive an increasing amount of attention. The series of studies reported here investigate the effect of numeracy and affect on the violation of rational choice principles. Preference reversal and violations of (transparent) dominance in decisions under risk are investigated in Study 1, using a lottery choice paradigm, while Study 2 examines the relationship between numeracy and these violations of rationality. Study 3 concerns the development and reliability and validity testing of a numeracy scale designed for use in decision research. Study 4 investigates the extent to which more and less numerate individuals attend to probabilistic and outcome value information, using a think aloud methodology. In Studies 5 and 6 the effect of endogenous and exogenous affect on choice and response time is examined, with Study 6 also investigating whether the effect of affect on dominance violation is mediated by numeracy or propensity to engage in cognitive reflection. Key contributions to theory made by this programme of research included the findings that: 1) probability neglect is a widespread phenomenon that can lead to violations of transparent dominance; 2) those lower in numeracy are more prone to probability neglect than those who are more numerate; 3) endogenous happiness promotes the utilisation of cognitively effortful System 2 processes and thus a reduced rate of probability neglect, while exogenous happiness does not; and 4) the relationship between endogenous happiness and process is not mediated by numeracy, thus indicating that those lower in numeracy can be motivated to expend greater cognitive effort on probabilistic tasks. Two key contributions to methodology are also made: 1) a numeracy scale; and 2) a procedure for eliciting task-endogenous changes in affective state.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available