Experiential values are underweighted in decisions involving symbolic options

Basile Garcia, Maël Lebreton, Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde, Stefano Palminteri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Standard models of decision-making assume each option is associated with subjective value, regardless of whether this value is inferred from experience (experiential) or explicitly instructed probabilistic outcomes (symbolic). In this study, we present results that challenge the assumption of unified representation of experiential and symbolic value. Across nine experiments, we presented participants with hybrid decisions between experiential and symbolic options. Participants’ choices exhibited a pattern consistent with a systematic neglect of the experiential values. This normatively irrational decision strategy held after accounting for alternative explanations, and persisted even when it bore an economic cost. Overall, our results demonstrate that experiential and symbolic values are not symmetrically considered in hybrid decisions, suggesting they recruit different representational systems that may be assigned different priority levels in the decision process. These findings challenge the dominant models commonly used in value-based decision-making research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-626
Number of pages16
JournalNature Human Behaviour
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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