From high- to one-dimensional dynamics of decision making: testing simplifications in attractor models

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Computational models introduce simplifications that need to be understood and validated. For attractor models of decision making, the main simplification is the high-level representation of different sub-processes of the complex decision system in one dynamic description of the overall process dynamics. This simplification implies that the overall process dynamics of the decision system are independent from specific values handled in different sub-processes. Here, we test the validity of this simplification empirically by investigating choice perseveration in a nonverbal, value-based decision task. Specifically, we tested whether choice perseveration occurred irrespectively of the attribute dimension as suggested by a simulation of the computational model. We find evidence supporting the validity of the simplification. We conclude that the simplification might capture mechanistic aspects of decision-making processes, and that the summation of the overall process dynamics of decision systems into one single variable is a valid approach in computational modeling. Supplement materials such as empirical data, analysis scripts, and the computational model are publicly available at the Open Science Framework (

Original languageEnglish
JournalCognitive Processing
Pages (from-to)303-313
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Attractor model, Choice history, Decision making, Process dynamics, Sequence effects

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