Date of Award

8-1-2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Young, Michael

Abstract

Three experiments were conducted to identify the impact of factors associated with the environment (predictability of the environment) and factors associated with an available expert (the accuracy of the expert and the cost of the expert's advice) on the optimal utilization of the expert. Across all three experiments, participants overutilized the expert (requesting advice when advice was suboptimal) when the expert accuracy was higher and when the environment was less predictable. Conversely, participants underutilized the expert (not requesting advice when doing so was optimal) more when the environment was more predictable and the expert was less accurate. Participants showed little sensitivity to the cost of advice, further compounding the errors. Requiring participants to request advice on every training trial increased reliance on the later optional expert and led to properties of the expert primarily influencing the decision to request advice. Requiring participants to rely only on the environmental cue during training decreased overall reliance on the later optional expert and led to properties of the environment primarily influencing the decision to request advice. Requiring participants to interact with both the environment and the expert during training led to better overall decisions and to the integration of environmental cues and properties of the expert to inform the decision to request advice.

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