Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

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Volume 5 Issue 3 (July/September 1992), Pages fmi-fmi, 155-231

Experiences extended across time: Evaluation of moments and episodes (pages 169-185)


Intuitions relating to outcomes extended over time are examined. Utility integration is proposed as a normative rule for the evaluation of extended episodes. In Experiment 1, subjects explicitly compared aversive experiences of varying durations. By several measures, disutility was a marginally decreasing function of episode duration, even for experiences that were thought to become increasingly aversive. This pattern is a qualitative violation of the integration rule. In Experiment 2, subjects made global evaluations of a hypothetical person's aversive experiences, on the basis of a series of subjective ratings of discomfort made at periodic intervals. The results showed an extreme sensitivity to improving or deteriorating trend and a striking neglect of duration. The final moments of an extended episode appear to exert a strong influence on the overall judgment. This leads to violations of monotonicity when adding some moments of moderate pain reduces judgments of global aversiveness.

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