Choice rates are independent from perceived patterns (when patterns are not obvious): A reply to Plonsky and Teodorescu

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In Ashby, Konstantinidis, and Yechiam (2017) we argued that the variance in people's choices in decisions from experience stems from uncertainty about preferences. This was confirmed by high correlations between the variance in experiential choices and subsequent one-shot policy decisions: both showing considerable diversification. In the present paper we address a comment regarding our paper by Plonsky and Teodorescu (2020). These authors suggested that variance in experiential choices is driven by responses to perceived patterns in prior outcomes (rather than individuals' preferences), and that these responses can also drive subsequent policy decisions. This was supported by an apparent “wavy recency” effect in our data indicatory of responses to patterns, and by an experiment showing that outcome patterns affected subsequent policy decisions. We demonstrate that our study results do not in fact show a significant wavy recency. We do find positive recency but it is very poorly correlated with the overall choice rates. Hence, we contend that the variance in choice rates mostly reflects one's preferences when there are no obvious patterns. Moreover, we argue that because Plonsky and Teodorescu's experimental manipulation was confounded with the frequency of relatively positive/negative outcomes, their results do not conclusively show an effect of response to patterns on subsequent policies.

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Acta Psychologica



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