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Why Do People Pursue Goals Sequentially when they Try to Balance the Cost and the Utility in an Electricity Consumption Task?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

While research in Cognitive Psychology has investigated people’s ability to use feedback to pursue a single goal, little research has addressed their ability to use feedback to pursue multiple goals. In a study (Juslin et al., 2016) that investigated people’s ability to use electricity efficiently in a simulated household, balancing the cost of its use against its utility, results showed that the goals were addressed sequentially, first the cost, thereafter the utility. In the present study, we investigated the reasons for this sequential goal pursuit and, specifically, if it derives from cognitive constraints. In Experiment 1, we tested if cost and utility are pursued simultaneously if they are equally emphasized by an explicit “budget”. In Experiment 2, we tested if the initial priority assigned to cost derives from its larger evaluability. In Experiment 3, we tested if cost and utility are pursued simultaneously if not only cost but also utility is represented by a linear function. The results suggest that the sequential goal pursuit is driven by limits on cognitive capacity that are little affected by training, goal phrasing, and function form. We found no evidence that the initial priority assigned to cost is caused by its higher evaluability or its linear function form.

Keywords [en]
sequential goal pursuit, goal-shielding, goal-dilution, electricity consumption
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-348820OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-348820DiVA, id: diva2:1198555
Funder
StandUpAvailable from: 2018-04-17 Created: 2018-04-17 Last updated: 2018-04-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Feedback learning and multiple goal pursuit in an electricity consumption task
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Feedback learning and multiple goal pursuit in an electricity consumption task
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim with the thesis was to investigate how learning to pursue two conflicting goals (cost and utility) in an electricity consumption task is affected by different forms of feedback, goal phrasing, and task environment. Applied research investigating the efficiency of outcome feedback on electricity consumption via in-home displays points at modest reductions (2-4%). Further, a wealth of cognitive psychological research shows that learning with outcome feedback is not unproblematic. A new experimental paradigm, the simulated household, that captures the cognitive task that confronts people when trying to regulate their electricity consumption, was developed. In three studies, different aspects of the problem of regulating one’s consumption was investigated. Study I, investigated how different feedback in terms of frequency, detail, and presence of random noise or not affect performance. It also investigated if participants pursued the goals sequentially or simultaneously and if they were able to derive a model of the task. Results showed that frequent feedback was beneficial only in a deterministic system and, surprisingly, random noise improved performance by highlighting the most costly appliances. Modelling results indicated that participants pursued goals sequentially and did not have a mental model of the task. Study II, investigated if a short feedforward training could replace or complement outcome feedback. Results indicated that the performance with one of the feedforward training schemes lead to comparable performance to outcome feedback only. The best performance was obtained when this feedforward scheme was combined with outcome feedback. Study III, investigated if the sequential goal pursuit observed in Study I was related to interpretation of the task or cognitive limitations by specifying goals for cost and/or utility. Further, it investigated the reason for the cost prioritisation. Results indicated that the sequential goal pursuit derives from cognitive constraints. Together, the results from the studies suggest that people pursue the goals sequentially and that instant outcome feedback may harm performance by distracting people from the most important and costly appliances to the appliances that allow large variability in use.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2018. p. 68
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 155
Keywords
feedback, multiple goal pursuit, function learning, electricity consumption, optimisation
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-348821 (URN)978-91-513-0341-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-06-07, Room 13:026, von Kraemers Allé 1A/1E, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
StandUp
Available from: 2018-05-16 Created: 2018-04-17 Last updated: 2018-10-08

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Guath, MonaJuslin, Peter

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