TP 2: "Time is Money": How Decision Makers Find the Balance Between Deciding Quickly and Deciding Correctly

Principal Investigator: Ronald Hübner

In many situations the accuracy of decisions increases with the time spent for collecting information. Consequently, if the available time is limited, there must be a tradeoff between deciding optimally and deciding quickly. According to sequential-sampling models, this speed-accuracy tradeoff is controlled by a criterion that specifies the amount of evidence needed to make a decision. An important question in this respect is to what extent decision makers can adjust this decision criterion to optimize their performance. Therefore, we will conduct a series of experiments in which different time-dependent incentive schemes are applied to investigate how flexibly individuals can adapt their decision criterion to varying conditions. Furthermore, a recently developed formal dual-process model will be used to model the results. Another research topic in this project concerns motivational aspects of decision making. Evidence suggests that under certain conditions, the reduced accuracy under time pressure can partly be counterbalanced by attentional effort mobilized by monetary incentives. We will investigate whether this is indeed the case, and if so, under which conditions monetary reward has a positive effect on performance. Finally, behavioural and electrophysiological data are collected to examine which processing stages in the mental system are affected by time pressure and monetary reward.


  • Time pressure affects the efficiency of perceptual processing in decisions under conflict. Michael Dambacher and Ronald Hübner, 2015, Psychological Research, Vol. 79, pp. 83-94.
  • The benefit of no choice: goal-directed plans enhance perceptual processing. Markus Janczyk, Michael Dambacher, Maik Bieleke, and Peter M. Gollwitzer, 2015, Psychological Research, Vol. 79, pp. 206-220
  • Investigating the speed-accuracy trade-off: Better use deadlines or response signals? Michael Dambacher and Ronald Hübner, 2013, Behavior Research Methods, Vol. 45, pp. 702-717.

Working Papers

  • If-then Planning Enhances Selective Attention. Maik Bieleke, Michael Dambacher, Ronald Hübner, and Peter M. Gollwitzer, 2015.
  • Graphs versus numbers: How information format affects decisions in gambling. Michael Dambacher, Peter Haffke, Daniel Groß, and Ronald Hübner, 2015.

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Time to decide

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