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

Hotaling, J. M., Donkin, C., Jarvstad, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3175-8733 & Newell, B. R. (2022). MEM-EX: An exemplar memory model of decisions from experience. Cognitive Psychology, 138, article number 101517. doi: 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2022.101517


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 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. We compare these to three alternative models; two baseline models built on the principle of expected value maximization, and another employing a suite of choice methods previously shown to perform well in prediction tournaments. We find that MEM-EX consistently outperforms these competitors, demonstrating its value as a tool for making quantitative predictions without overfitting. We discuss the implications of these findings for our understanding of the interplay between attention, memory, and experience-based choice.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Decisions from experience, Computational models, Decision making, Cognitive mechanisms, Exemplar memory, BEAST
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Manuscript - MEM-EX (v15).pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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