Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New course on decision making: Seeking feedback

I am currently developing a new course on the psychology of decision making that I will teach at Stanford in the Spring Quarter of 2016. I've looked at the various textbooks on this topic and I'm not particularly happy with any of them, so I am rolling my own syllabus and will use readings from the primary literature.  I have developed a draft syllabus and would love to get feedback: Are there important topics that I am missing?  Different readings that I should consider?  Topics I should consider dropping?  Please leave comments with your suggestions, or email me at!

Part 1: What is a decision? 

1. Varieties of decision making (overview of course)

Part 2: Normative decision theory: How an optimal system should make decisions

2. axiomatic approach from economics
- TBD reading on expected utility theory

3. Bayesian decision theory
K├Ârding, K. P. (2007). Decision Theory: What “Should” the Nervous System Do? Science, 318(5850), 606–610.

4. Information accumulation
Smith & Ratcliff, 2004, Psychology and neurobiology of simple decisions.  TINS.

Part 3: Psychology: How humans make decisions

5. Anomalies: the ascendence of psychology and behavioral economics
Kahneman, D. (2003). A perspective on judgment and choice. American Psychologist,
58, 697-720

6. Judgment: Anchoring and adjustment
Chapman, G.B. & Johnson, E.J. (2002). Incorporating the irrelevant: Anchors in
judgment of belief and value

7. Heuristics: availability, representativeness
Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases.
Science, 185, 1124-1131. 

8. Risk and uncertainty: Risk perception, risk attitudes
Slovic, P. (1987). Perception of risk. Science, 236, 280-285

9. Prospect theory 
Kahneman, D. & Tversky A. (1984). Choices, values, and frames. American
Psychologist, 39, 341–350.

10. Framing, endowment effects, and applications of prospect theory
Kahneman, D., Knetsch, J.L., & Thaler, R.H. (1991). The endowment effect, loss
aversion, and status quo bias. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 5, 193-206.

11. Varieties of utility
Kahneman, Wakker, & Sarin (1997). Back to Bentham: Explorations of experienced utility.  Quarterly Journal of Economics.

12. Intertemporal choice and self-control
Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Rodriguez, M.L. (1989). Delay of gratification in children. Science, 244, pp. 933-938.

13. Emotion and decision making
Rottenstreich, Y. & Hsee, C.K. (2001). Money, kisses and electric shocks: On the
affective psychology of risk. Psychological Science, 12, 185-190.

14. Social decision making and game theory

Part 4: Neuroscience of decision making

15. Neuroscience of simple decisions
Sugrue, Corrado, & Newsome (2005). Choosing the greater of two goods: neural currencies for valuation and decision making. Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

16. Neuroscience of Value-based decision making
Rangel et al., 2008, A framework for studying the neurobiology of value-based decision making

17. Reinforcement learning and dopamine, wanting/liking
Schultz, Montague, and Dayan (1997) A neural substrate of prediction and reward

18. Decision making in simple organisms
Reading TBD (c. elegans, snails, slime mold, etc)

Part 5: Ethical issues

19. Free will
Roskies (2006) Neuroscientific challenges to free will and responsibility.
Shadlen & Roskies (2012). The neurobiology of decision-making and responsibility: reconciling mechanism and mindedness.