A test of the diffusion model explanation for the worst performance rule using preregistration and blinding
Perceptual and preferential decision making have been studied largely in isolation. Perceptual decisions are considered to be at a non-deliberative cognitive level and have an outside criterion that defines the quality of decisions. Preferential decisions are considered to be at a higher cognitive level and the quality of decisions depend on the decision maker's subjective goals. Besides these crucial differences, both types of decisions also have in common that uncertain information about the choice situation has to be processed before a decision can be made. The present work aims to acknowledge the commonalities of both types of decision making to lay bare the crucial differences. For this aim we examine perceptual and preferential decisions with a novel choice paradigm that uses the identical stimulus material for both types of decisions. This paradigm allows us to model the decisions and response times of both types of decisions with the same sequential sampling model, the drift diffusion model. The results illustrate that the different incentive structure in both types of tasks changes people's behavior so that they process information more efficiently and respond more cautiously in the perceptual as compared to the preferential task. These findings set out a perspective for further integration of perceptual and preferential decision making in a single ramework.