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Tiede, Kevin E.; Henninger, Felix and Kieslich, Pascal J. (2021): Revisiting the Open Sampling format: Improving risky choices through a novel graphical representation. In: Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Vol. 29, No. 2: pp. 648-659

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When making risky choices, people often fall short of the norm of expected value (EV) maximization. Previous research has shown that presenting options in the Open Sampling (OSa) format, a 10-by-10 matrix of randomly arranged outcomes, can improve choices and reduce decision times. First, the current research aims to replicate and extend the findings on the OSa format. To this end, we compare OSa to the common description-based format as well as further graphical representations, and investigate the resulting accordance with EV maximization and decision time. Second, we study whether people lower (vs. higher) in numeracy, the ability to use probabilistic and mathematical concepts, particularly benefit from a graphical representation of options. We conducted five high-powered studies (total N = 1,575) in which participants chose repeatedly between two risky gambles, using different populations and gamble-problem sets. Overall, we could not find a benefit of the OSa format in terms of EV accordance in any of the five studies. However, three studies also tested a novel variant of the OSa format with grouped outcomes and found that it consistently improved EV accordance compared with all other formats. All graphical formats led to faster decisions without harming decision quality. The effects of presentation format were not moderated by numeracy in three of the four studies that assessed numeracy. In conclusion, our research introduces a new presentation format which consistently improves risky choices and can also be used to communicate risks in applied contexts such as medical decision making.

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