Fatigue biases the decoy effect in males but not females

Shuyi Wu, Rongjun Yu
Published Online:
16 Jul 2018
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Early View Articles

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Individuals often need to make critical decisions even when they are in a fatigued state. Mental fatigue may lead to increased susceptibility to distraction and poor information processing but it is unclear exactly how fatigue shapes individuals' decision‐making. We studied how mental fatigue influences sensitivity to contextual information, indexed as decoy bias. Mental fatigue was induced using a multi‐source interference task, and decoy bias was assessed using a gambling task, in 124 young adults. Results showed that mental fatigue increased decoy bias through enhanced perceptual salience of contextual cues, but only in males. The findings provide insight into a gender‐specific relationship between fatigue and poor judgments. This study extends the current literature on links between fatigue and poor decision‐making by documenting a possible mechanism of the association. The results may have practical implications for designing optimal working hours and safeguarding people from suboptimal decisions.

© 2018 International Union of Psychological Science