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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Neuroscience and Behavior

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Youngbin Kwak

Subject Categories

Cognition and Perception | Developmental Psychology | Experimental Analysis of Behavior


A great portion of the decision-making literature has put front and center the definition of formal models to explain and predict human behavior under these conditions. However, this approach often homogenizes participants, obscuring the nuances of individual decision-making strategies. Even among studies incorporating individual flexibility, their models tend to assume a baseline function that simply varies across participants. However, since both the interpretation of the information and their integration are crucial to determine the value they provide to an agent, it is impossible to characterize their decision-making process without knowing how a given individual is solving a task in the first place. Therefore, we propose that categorizing participants according to their strategies can shed light on the unique ways in which individuals navigate complex decision scenarios. The current work explores two decision contexts: the first involves continuous learning through feedback in a complex uncertain scenario, and a simpler setup focused on preferential choices under risk. Additionally, for the first scenario we present results from a developmental study investigating how strategies evolve throughout development, from early adolescence into adulthood. These studies show evidence of distinct information search patterns associated with various heuristics, highlighting the significance of these strategies in shaping participants' choices. We present results on the prevalence of decision strategies across age groups, with adults displaying more efficient use of non-compensatory strategies, while adolescents display less consistent use of these strategies. Furthermore, we show the influence of discrete information sampling on evidence accumulation during preferential tasks, revealing distinct effects on movement paths for each decision strategy. This underscores the critical role of decision strategies in determining the value of information and alternatives, as well as their integration into the decision-making process. The results from these three studies present clear evidence of the importance of considering what strategies participants may use in a decision-making task, since these will have a great role in determining how the information is searched, integrated, and used to make their choices. Disregarding this can mask some behavioral effects and even introduce spurious patterns as an artifact of averaging the whole sample together.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Available for download on Saturday, February 01, 2025