Salience driven value integration explains decision biases and preference reversal

Konstantinos Tsetsos, Nick Chater, Marius Usher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

151 Citations (Scopus)


Human choice behavior exhibits many paradoxical and challenging patterns. Traditional explanations focus on how values are represented, but little is known about how values are integrated. Here we outline a psychophysical task for value integration that can be used as a window on high-level, multiattribute decisions. Participants choose between alternative rapidly presented streams of numerical values. By controlling the temporal distribution of the values, we demonstrate that this process underlies many puzzling choice paradoxes, such as temporal, risk, and framing biases, as well as preference reversals. These phenomena can be explained by a simple mechanism based on the integration of values, weighted by their salience. The salience of a sampled value depends on its temporal order and momentary rank in the decision context, whereas the direction of the weighting is determined by the task framing. We show that many known choice anomalies may arise from the microstructure of the value integration process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9659-64
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2012


  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychophysics
  • Risk


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