Inducing Alternative-Based and Characteristic-Based Search Procedures in Risky Choice

Luigi Mittone, Mauro Papi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We propose a novel experimental design aimed at investigating whether
inducing individuals to use certain choice procedures has an effect on the outcome of their decision. Specifically, by implementing a modification of the
mouse-tracing method, we induce subjects to use either alternative-based or
characteristic-based search procedures in a between-subject design lottery-choice experiment. We find that encouraging subjects to search by characteristic systematically makes them choose riskier options. Consistently with existing literature, our evidence indicates that individuals typically look up information within alternatives. However, when induced to search by characteristic, high prizes receive more attention, leading individuals to switch to non-compensatory heuristics and - consequently - make riskier choices. Our
findings are robust to variations in the complexity of the choice problem and
individual differences in risk-attitudes, CRT scores, and gender.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Apr 2020



  • Alternative-Based Search
  • Characteristic-Based Search
  • Risky Choice

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