Context Dependent Utility: Modeling Decision Behavior Across Contexts

Abstract

One significant challenge in creating accurate models of human decision behavior is accounting for the effect of context. Research shows that seemingly minor changes in the presentation of a decision can lead to drastic shifts in behavior; phenomena collectively referred to as framing effects. Previous work has developed Context Dependent Utility (CDU), a framework integrating Appraisal Theory with decision-theoretic principles. This work extends existing research by presenting a study exploring the behavioral predictions offered by CDU regarding the multidimensional effect of context on decision behavior. The present study finds support for the predictions of CDU regarding the impact of context on decisions: 1) as perceptions of pleasantness increase, decision behavior tends towards risk-aversion; 2) as perceptions of goal-congruence increase, decision behavior tends towards risk-aversion; 3) as perceptions of controllability increase, i.e., perceptions that outcomes would have been primarily caused by the decision maker, behavior tends towards risk-seeking.


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