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Workshop: Workshop on Human and Machine Decisions

Excited and aroused: The predictive importance of simple choice process metrics

Steffen Mueller · Patrick Ring · Maria Fischer


We conduct a lottery experiment to assess the predictive importance of simple choice process metrics (SCPMs) in forecasting risky 50/50 gambling decisions using different types of machine learning algorithms in addition to traditional choice modeling approaches. The SCPMs are recorded during a fixed pre-decision phase and are derived from tracking subjects’ eye movements, pupil sizes, skin conductance, and cardiovascular and respiratory signals. Our study demonstrates that SCPMs provide relevant information for predicting gambling decisions; however, we do not find forecasting accuracy to be substantially affected by adding SCPMs to standard choice data. Instead, our results show that forecasting accuracy highly depends on differences in subject-specific risk preferences and is largely driven by including information on lottery design variables. As a key result, we find evidence for dynamic changes in the predictive importance of psychophysiological responses that appear to be linked to habituation and resource-depletion effects. Subjects’ willingness to gamble and choice-revealing arousal signals both decrease as the experiment progresses.

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