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Metacognition of value-based choices

PhD Project of Oriane Armand

Do we always reflect on our preferences in the same way?

“What would you like for lunch?” - “Which charity do you wish to support?” However different these questions might seem, they are both cases of value-based decisions, where one has to decide what is best. Like other decisions, they will be accompanied by a certain level of subjective uncertainty: You might be very sure that you prefer fish to pasta for lunch, but less sure that supporting the local youth charity is better than sending money to UNESCO.

By reducing value-based decisions to two alternatives forced choice tasks, it is possible to study this uncertainty as a function of the difference between the value of the two options, rated independently by the individuals. For food choices, it has been shown that, the larger the difference in subjective value between the two food options, the more confident individuals are that their choice is the best one.

In this project, we predict that the same will happen for moral choices of giving to charities. What we are further interested in, is to compare the subjective confidence across two value domains: Is one as accurate at knowing and reporting what s/he values most, be it in the food items or among charities.


Oriane Armand, Ophelia Deroy, Benedetto de Martino (UCL)