The information we use to make decisions has costs. We consider things like money, effort, time, and accuracy when deciding what information to access to help us make these decisions – whether ordering medical diagnostic tests, picking out the perfect eggplant at the grocery store, or even making classification decisions in a laboratory experiment. Our lab is interested in how behaviour changes when information “costs” more — are people willing to take a hit on accuracy in order to save a bit of time? Will it help or hurt learning? Does it encourage people to optimize their patterns of information access?
When learning about category members, people who have to “pay” for diagnostic information (in this case, with a three-second time delay) actually learn categories faster than people who get this information for free (that is, instantly). To find out more about this line of research, see our publication (Wood, Fry, & Blair, 2010) in the Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.
We are also interested in diagnostic feature informativeness, and how the value of information can bias patterns of information access (as measured by eye movements).