Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Karina Sakanaka L&S Sciences

Economic Preference Parameters for Ambiguous Decision-Making

Cognitive control is the mechanism of coordinating actions with internal goals. I am primarily interested in the role of cognitive control in decision-making, particularly how internal states such as economic preferences can influence decision-making under probabilistic outcomes. Individuals differ in their tolerance for the amount of uncertainty in decision-making, and behavioral economic models, such as expected utility functions can create parameters that capture preference or aversion for risk and ambiguity. Using the choice history of each subject between pairs of gambles, my project will investigate how economic preference parameters may change for ambiguous conditions if probabilities are fixed. Will people show the same aversion for ambiguity if they believe experience with ambiguous conditions can help them learn the probability of outcomes?

Message To Sponsor

I have been working in the DEsposito neuroimaging lab since April 2007, and I have assisted various projects examining cognitive control and associative learning. For my senior honors thesis, I am very excited to extend my research on cognitive control to include considerations of reward and risk processing for decisions under uncertainty. Although correlating behavioral results with economic models is a new endeavor for me, I am embracing contributions from different fields in order to understand decision-making from different perspectives.
Major: Cognitive Science
Mentor: Mark D'Eposito, Neuroscience and Psychology
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