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MEM-EX: An exemplar memory model of decisions from experience

Hotaling, J., Donkin, C., Jarvstad, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3175-8733 & Newell, B. R. (2020). MEM-EX: An exemplar memory model of decisions from experience (10.31234/ .


Many real-world decisions must be made on basis of experienced outcomes. However, there is little consensus about the mechanisms by which people make these decisions from experience (DfE). Across five experiments, we identified several factors influencing DfE. We also introduce a novel computational modeling framework, the memory for exemplars model (MEM-EX), which posits that decision makers rely on memory for previously experienced outcomes to make choices. Using MEM-EX, we demonstrate how several cognitive mechanisms provide intuitive and parsimonious explanations for the effects of value-ignorance, salience, outcome order, and sample size. We also conduct a cross-validation analysis of several models within the MEM-EX framework, as well as a baseline model built on principles of reinforcement-learning. We find that MEM-EX consistently outperforms this baseline, demonstrating its value as a tool for making quantitative predictions without overfitting. We discuss the implications of these findings on our understanding of the interplay between attention, memory, and experience-based choice.

Publication Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Additional Information: Copyright, the authors, 2020.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
[thumbnail of Preprint 2 - MEM-EX (1).pdf]
Text - Pre-print
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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