Negative outcomes evoke cyclic irrational decisions in Rock, Paper, Scissors

Dyson, Benjamin James, Wilbiks, Jonathan Michael Paul, Sandhu, Raj, Papanicolaou, Georgois and Lintag, Jaimie (2016) Negative outcomes evoke cyclic irrational decisions in Rock, Paper, Scissors. Scientific Reports, 6. p. 20479. ISSN 2045-2322

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Abstract

Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) represents a unique gaming space in which the predictions of human
rational decision-making can be compared with actual performance. Playing a computerized opponent
adopting a mixed-strategy equilibrium, participants revealed a non-significant tendency to over-select
Rock. Further violations of rational decision-making were observed using an inter-trial analysis where
participants were more likely to switch their item selection at trial n + 1 following a loss or draw at
trial n, revealing the strategic vulnerability of individuals following the experience of negative rather
than positive outcome. Unique switch strategies related to each of these trial n outcomes were also
identified: after losing participants were more likely to ‘downgrade’ their item (e.g., Rock followed by
Scissors) but after drawing participants were more likely to ‘upgrade’ their item (e.g., Rock followed by
Paper). Further repetition analysis revealed that participants were more likely to continue their specific
cyclic item change strategy into trial n + 2. The data reveal the strategic vulnerability of individuals
following the experience of negative rather than positive outcome, the tensions between behavioural
and cognitive influences on decision making, and underline the dangers of increased behavioural
predictability in other recursive, non-cooperative environments such as economics and politics.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: Q Science > QZ Psychology
Depositing User: Ben Dyson
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2016 11:57
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2017 12:25
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/60018

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