When people anticipate uncertain future outcomes, they often prefer to know their fate in advance. Inspired by an idea in behavioral economics that the anticipation of rewards is itself attractive, we hypothesized that this preference of advance information arises because reward prediction errors carried by such information can boost the level of anticipation. We designed new empirical behavioral studies to test this proposal, and confirmed that subjects preferred advance reward information more strongly when they had to wait for rewards for a longer time. We formulated our proposal in a reinforcement-learning model, and we showed that our model accounts for a wide range of existing neuronal and behavioral data, without appealing to ambiguous notions such as an explicit value for information. We suggest that such boosted anticipation significantly drives risk-seeking behaviors, most pertinently in gambling.
Human subjects: Human subjects: All participants provided written informed consent and consent to publish prior to start of the experiment, which was approved by the Research Ethics Committee at University College London (UCL Research Ethics Reference: 3450/002)
- Naoshige Uchida, Harvard University, United States
© 2016, Iigaya et al.
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