Classification of Human Decision Behavior : Finding Modular Decision Rules with Genetic Algorithms

Rothlauf, Franz ; Schunk, Daniel ; Pfeiffer, Jella

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-12685
Document Type: Working paper
Year of publication: 2005
The title of a journal, publication series: MEA Discussion Papers
Volume: 079
Place of publication: Mannheim
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Law and Economics > Sonstige - Fakultät für Rechtswissenschaft und Volkswirtschaftslehre
MADOC publication series: Veröffentlichungen des MEA (Mannheim Research Institute For the Economics of Aging) > MEA Discussion Papers
Subject: 330 Economics
Subject headings (SWD): Verhalten , Genetischer Algorithmus , Entscheidungsverhalten
Abstract: The understanding of human behavior in sequential decision tasks is important for economics and socio-psychological sciences. In search taks, for example when individuals search for the best price of a product, they are confronted in sequential steps with different situations and they have to decide whether to continue or stop searching. The decision behavior of individuals in such search tasks is described by a search strategy. This paper presents a new approach of finding high-equality search strategies by using genetic algorithms (GAs). Only the structure of the search strategies and the basic building blocks (price thresholds and price patterns) that can be used for the search strategies are pre-specific. It is the purpose of the GA to construct search strategies that well describe human behavior. The search strategies found by the GA are able to predict human behavior in search tasks better than traditional search strategies from the literature which are usually based on theoretical assumptions about human behavior in search tasks. Furthermore, the found search strategies are resonable in the sense that they can be well interpreted, and generally that means they describe the search behavior of a larger group of individuals and allow some kind of categorization and classification. The results of this study open a new perspective for future research in developing behavioral strategies. Instead of deriving search strategies from theoretical assumptions about human behavior, researchers can directly analyze human behavior in search tasks and find appropriate and high-quality search strategies. These can be used for gaining new insights into the motivation behind human search and for developing new theoretical models about human search behavior.

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