Header logo is


2018


no image
Discovering and Teaching Optimal Planning Strategies

Lieder, F., Callaway, F., Krueger, P. M., Das, P., Griffiths, T. L., Gul, S.

In The 14th biannual conference of the German Society for Cognitive Science, GK, September 2018, Falk Lieder and Frederick Callaway contributed equally to this publication. (inproceedings)

Abstract
How should we think and decide, and how can we learn to make better decisions? To address these questions we formalize the discovery of cognitive strategies as a metacognitive reinforcement learning problem. This formulation leads to a computational method for deriving optimal cognitive strategies and a feedback mechanism for accelerating the process by which people learn how to make better decisions. As a proof of concept, we apply our approach to develop an intelligent system that teaches people optimal planning stratgies. Our training program combines a novel process-tracing paradigm that makes peoples latent planning strategies observable with an intelligent system that gives people feedback on how their planning strategy could be improved. The pedagogy of our intelligent tutor is based on the theory that people discover their cognitive strategies through metacognitive reinforcement learning. Concretely, the tutor’s feedback is designed to maximally accelerate people’s metacognitive reinforcement learning towards the optimal cognitive strategy. A series of four experiments confirmed that training with the cognitive tutor significantly improved people’s decision-making competency: Experiment 1 demonstrated that the cognitive tutor’s feedback accelerates participants’ metacognitive learning. Experiment 2 found that this training effect transfers to more difficult planning problems in more complex environments. Experiment 3 found that these transfer effects are retained for at least 24 hours after the training. Finally, Experiment 4 found that practicing with the cognitive tutor conveys additional benefits above and beyond verbal description of the optimal planning strategy. The results suggest that promoting metacognitive reinforcement learning with optimal feedback is a promising approach to improving the human mind.

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

2018

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


no image
Discovering Rational Heuristics for Risky Choice

Gul, S., Krueger, P. M., Callaway, F., Griffiths, T. L., Lieder, F.

The 14th biannual conference of the German Society for Cognitive Science, GK, The 14th biannual conference of the German Society for Cognitive Science, GK, September 2018 (conference)

Abstract
How should we think and decide to make the best possible use of our precious time and limited cognitive resources? And how do people’s cognitive strategies compare to this ideal? We study these questions in the domain of multi-alternative risky choice using the methodology of resource-rational analysis. To answer the first question, we leverage a new meta-level reinforcement learning algorithm to derive optimal heuristics for four different risky choice environments. We find that our method rediscovers two fast-and-frugal heuristics that people are known to use, namely Take-The-Best and choosing randomly, as resource-rational strategies for specific environments. Our method also discovered a novel heuristic that combines elements of Take-The-Best and Satisficing. To answer the second question, we use the Mouselab paradigm to measure how people’s decision strategies compare to the predictions of our resource-rational analysis. We found that our resource-rational analysis correctly predicted which strategies people use and under which conditions they use them. While people generally tend to make rational use of their limited resources overall, their strategy choices do not always fully exploit the structure of each decision problem. Overall, people’s decision operations were about 88% as resource-rational as they could possibly be. A formal model comparison confirmed that our resource-rational model explained people’s decision strategies significantly better than the Directed Cognition model of Gabaix et al. (2006). Our study is a proof-of-concept that optimal cognitive strategies can be automatically derived from the principle of resource-rationality. Our results suggest that resource-rational analysis is a promising approach for uncovering people’s cognitive strategies and revisiting the debate about human rationality with a more realistic normative standard.

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


no image
Learning to Select Computations

Callaway, F., Gul, S., Krueger, P. M., Griffiths, T. L., Lieder, F.

In Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence: Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Conference, August 2018, Frederick Callaway and Sayan Gul and Falk Lieder contributed equally to this publication. (inproceedings)

Abstract
The efficient use of limited computational resources is an essential ingredient of intelligence. Selecting computations optimally according to rational metareasoning would achieve this, but this is computationally intractable. Inspired by psychology and neuroscience, we propose the first concrete and domain-general learning algorithm for approximating the optimal selection of computations: Bayesian metalevel policy search (BMPS). We derive this general, sample-efficient search algorithm for a computation-selecting metalevel policy based on the insight that the value of information lies between the myopic value of information and the value of perfect information. We evaluate BMPS on three increasingly difficult metareasoning problems: when to terminate computation, how to allocate computation between competing options, and planning. Across all three domains, BMPS achieved near-optimal performance and compared favorably to previously proposed metareasoning heuristics. Finally, we demonstrate the practical utility of BMPS in an emergency management scenario, even accounting for the overhead of metareasoning.

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


A resource-rational analysis of human planning
A resource-rational analysis of human planning

Callaway, F., Lieder, F., Das, P., Gul, S., Krueger, P. M., Griffiths, T. L.

In Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, May 2018, Frederick Callaway and Falk Lieder contributed equally to this publication. (inproceedings)

Abstract
People's cognitive strategies are jointly shaped by function and computational constraints. Resource-rational analysis leverages these constraints to derive rational models of people's cognitive strategies from the assumption that people make rational use of limited cognitive resources. We present a resource-rational analysis of planning and evaluate its predictions in a newly developed process tracing paradigm. In Experiment 1, we find that a resource-rational planning strategy predicts the process by which people plan more accurately than previous models of planning. Furthermore, in Experiment 2, we find that it also captures how people's planning strategies adapt to the structure of the environment. In addition, our approach allows us to quantify for the first time how close people's planning strategies are to being resource-rational and to characterize in which ways they conform to and deviate from optimal planning.

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


no image
Rational metareasoning and the plasticity of cognitive control

Lieder, F., Shenhav, A., Musslick, S., Griffiths, T. L.

PLOS Computational Biology, 14(4):e1006043, Public Library of Science, April 2018 (article)

Abstract
The human brain has the impressive capacity to adapt how it processes information to high-level goals. While it is known that these cognitive control skills are malleable and can be improved through training, the underlying plasticity mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we develop and evaluate a model of how people learn when to exert cognitive control, which controlled process to use, and how much effort to exert. We derive this model from a general theory according to which the function of cognitive control is to select and configure neural pathways so as to make optimal use of finite time and limited computational resources. The central idea of our Learned Value of Control model is that people use reinforcement learning to predict the value of candidate control signals of different types and intensities based on stimulus features. This model correctly predicts the learning and transfer effects underlying the adaptive control-demanding behavior observed in an experiment on visual attention and four experiments on interference control in Stroop and Flanker paradigms. Moreover, our model explained these findings significantly better than an associative learning model and a Win-Stay Lose-Shift model. Our findings elucidate how learning and experience might shape people’s ability and propensity to adaptively control their minds and behavior. We conclude by predicting under which circumstances these learning mechanisms might lead to self-control failure.

Rational metareasoning and the plasticity of cognitive control DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

Rational metareasoning and the plasticity of cognitive control DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


no image
Over-Representation of Extreme Events in Decision Making Reflects Rational Use of Cognitive Resources

Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L., Hsu, M.

Psychological Review, 125(1):1-32, January 2018 (article)

Abstract
People’s decisions and judgments are disproportionately swayed by improbable but extreme eventualities, such as terrorism, that come to mind easily. This article explores whether such availability biases can be reconciled with rational information processing by taking into account the fact that decision-makers value their time and have limited cognitive resources. Our analysis suggests that to make optimal use of their finite time decision-makers should over-represent the most important potential consequences relative to less important, put potentially more probable, outcomes. To evaluate this account we derive and test a model we call utility-weighted sampling. Utility-weighted sampling estimates the expected utility of potential actions by simulating their outcomes. Critically, outcomes with more extreme utilities have a higher probability of being simulated. We demonstrate that this model can explain not only people’s availability bias in judging the frequency of extreme events but also a wide range of cognitive biases in decisions from experience, decisions from description, and memory recall.

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


no image
Beyond Bounded Rationality: Reverse-Engineering and Enhancing Human Intelligence

(Glushko Prize 2020)

Lieder, F.

University of California, Berkeley, 2018 (phdthesis)

Abstract
Bad decisions can have devastating consequences: There is a vast body of literature claiming that human judgment and decision-making are riddled with numerous systematic violations of the rules of logic, probability theory, and expected utility theory. The discovery of these cognitive biases in the 1970s (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974) made people question the concept of Homo sapiens as the rational animal, profoundly shaking the foundations of economics and rational models in the cognitive, neural, and social sciences. Four decades later, these disciplines still lack a rigorous theoretical foundation for explaining and remedying people’s cognitive biases. To solve this problem, my dissertation offers a mathematically precise theory of bounded rationality and demonstrates how it can be leveraged to elucidate the cognitive mechanisms of judgment and decision-making (Part 1) and to help people make better decisions (Part 2).

Précis of Beyond Bounded Rationality: Reverse-Engineering and Enhancing Human Intelligence DOI [BibTex]


no image
The Computational Challenges of Pursuing Multiple Goals: Network Structure of Goal Systems Predicts Human Performance

Reichman, D., Lieder, F., Bourgin, D. D., Talmon, N., Griffiths, T. L.

PsyArXiv, 2018 (article)

Abstract
Extant psychological theories attribute people’s failure to achieve their goals primarily to failures of self-control, insufficient motivation, or lacking skills. We develop a complementary theory specifying conditions under which the computational complexity of making the right decisions becomes prohibitive of goal achievement regardless of skill or motivation. We support our theory by predicting human performance from factors determining the computational complexity of selecting the optimal set of means for goal achievement. Following previous theories of goal pursuit, we express the relationship between goals and means as a bipartite graph where edges between means and goals indicate which means can be used to achieve which goals. This allows us to map two computational challenges that arise in goal achievement onto two classic combinatorial optimization problems: Set Cover and Maximum Coverage. While these problems are believed to be computationally intractable on general networks, their solution can be nevertheless efficiently approximated when the structure of the network resembles a tree. Thus, our initial prediction was that people should perform better with goal systems that are more tree-like. In addition, our theory predicted that people’s performance at selecting means should be a U-shaped function of the average number of goals each means is relevant to and the average number of means through which each goal could be accomplished. Here we report on six behavioral experiments which confirmed these predictions. Our results suggest that combinatorial parameters that are instrumental to algorithm design can also be useful for understanding when and why people struggle to pursue their goals effectively.

DOI [BibTex]

2017


no image
Optimal gamification can help people procrastinate less

Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L.

Annual Meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Annual Meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, November 2017 (conference)

Project Page [BibTex]

2017

Project Page [BibTex]


no image
Strategy selection as rational metareasoning

Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L.

Psychological Review, 124, pages: 762-794, American Psychological Association, November 2017 (article)

Abstract
Many contemporary accounts of human reasoning assume that the mind is equipped with multiple heuristics that could be deployed to perform a given task. This raises the question of how the mind determines when to use which heuristic. To answer this question, we developed a rational model of strategy selection, based on the theory of rational metareasoning developed in the artificial intelligence literature. According to our model people learn to efficiently choose the strategy with the best cost–benefit tradeoff by learning a predictive model of each strategy’s performance. We found that our model can provide a unifying explanation for classic findings from domains ranging from decision-making to arithmetic by capturing the variability of people’s strategy choices, their dependence on task and context, and their development over time. Systematic model comparisons supported our theory, and 4 new experiments confirmed its distinctive predictions. Our findings suggest that people gradually learn to make increasingly more rational use of fallible heuristics. This perspective reconciles the 2 poles of the debate about human rationality by integrating heuristics and biases with learning and rationality. (APA PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


no image
Empirical Evidence for Resource-Rational Anchoring and Adjustment

Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L., Huys, Q. J. M., Goodman, N. D.

Psychonomic Bulletin \& Review, 25, pages: 775-784, Springer, May 2017 (article)

Abstract
People’s estimates of numerical quantities are systematically biased towards their initial guess. This anchoring bias is usually interpreted as sign of human irrationality, but it has recently been suggested that the anchoring bias instead results from people’s rational use of their finite time and limited cognitive resources. If this were true, then adjustment should decrease with the relative cost of time. To test this hypothesis, we designed a new numerical estimation paradigm that controls people’s knowledge and varies the cost of time and error independently while allowing people to invest as much or as little time and effort into refining their estimate as they wish. Two experiments confirmed the prediction that adjustment decreases with time cost but increases with error cost regardless of whether the anchor was self-generated or provided. These results support the hypothesis that people rationally adapt their number of adjustments to achieve a near-optimal speed-accuracy tradeoff. This suggests that the anchoring bias might be a signature of the rational use of finite time and limited cognitive resources rather than a sign of human irrationality.

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


no image
An automatic method for discovering rational heuristics for risky choice

Lieder, F., Krueger, P. M., Griffiths, T. L.

In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society, 2017, Falk Lieder and Paul M. Krueger contributed equally to this publication. (inproceedings)

Abstract
What is the optimal way to make a decision given that your time is limited and your cognitive resources are bounded? To answer this question, we formalized the bounded optimal decision process as the solution to a meta-level Markov decision process whose actions are costly computations. We approximated the optimal solution and evaluated its predictions against human choice behavior in the Mouselab paradigm, which is widely used to study decision strategies. Our computational method rediscovered well-known heuristic strategies and the conditions under which they are used, as well as novel heuristics. A Mouselab experiment confirmed our model’s main predictions. These findings are a proof-of-concept that optimal cognitive strategies can be automatically derived as the rational use of finite time and bounded cognitive resources.

Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


no image
A reward shaping method for promoting metacognitive learning

Lieder, F., Krueger, P. M., Callaway, F., Griffiths, T. L.

In Proceedings of the Third Multidisciplinary Conference on Reinforcement Learning and Decision-Making, 2017 (inproceedings)

Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


no image
A computerized training program for teaching people how to plan better

Lieder, F., Krueger, P. M., Callaway, F., Griffiths, T. L.

PsyArXiv, 2017 (article)

Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


no image
When does bounded-optimal metareasoning favor few cognitive systems?

Milli, S., Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L.

In AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 31, 2017 (inproceedings)

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


no image
The Structure of Goal Systems Predicts Human Performance

Bourgin, D., Lieder, F., Reichman, D., Talmon, N., Griffiths, T.

In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 2017 (inproceedings)

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


no image
Learning to (mis) allocate control: maltransfer can lead to self-control failure

Bustamante, L., Lieder, F., Musslick, S., Shenhav, A., Cohen, J.

In The 3rd Multidisciplinary Conference on Reinforcement Learning and Decision Making. Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2017 (inproceedings)

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


no image
Toward a rational and mechanistic account of mental effort

Shenhav, A., Musslick, S., Lieder, F., Kool, W., Griffiths, T., Cohen, J., Botvinick, M.

Annual Review of Neuroscience, 40, pages: 99-124, Annual Reviews, 2017 (article)

Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


no image
Mouselab-MDP: A new paradigm for tracing how people plan

Callaway, F., Lieder, F., Krueger, P. M., Griffiths, T. L.

In The 3rd multidisciplinary conference on reinforcement learning and decision making, 2017 (inproceedings)

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


no image
Enhancing metacognitive reinforcement learning using reward structures and feedback

Krueger, P. M., Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L.

In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 2017 (inproceedings)

Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


no image
The anchoring bias reflects rational use of cognitive resources

Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L., Huys, Q. J. M., Goodman, N. D.

Psychonomic Bulletin \& Review, 25, pages: 762-794, Springer, 2017 (article)

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


no image
Helping people choose subgoals with sparse pseudo rewards

Callaway, F., Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L.

In Proceedings of the Third Multidisciplinary Conference on Reinforcement Learning and Decision Making, 2017 (inproceedings)

[BibTex]

[BibTex]