Regulatory Fit and Systematic Exploration in a Dynamic Decision-Making Environment

A. Ross Otto, Arthur B. Markman, Todd M. Gureckis, Bradley C. Love

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work explores the influence of motivation on choice behavior in a dynamic decision-making environment, where the payoffs from each choice depend on one's recent choice history. Previous research reveals that participants in a regulatory fit exhibit increased levels of exploratory choice and flexible use of multiple strategies over the course of an experiment. The present study placed promotion and prevention-focused participants in a dynamic environment for which optimal performance is facilitated by systematic exploration of the decision space. These participants either gained or lost points with each choice. Our experiment revealed that participants in a regulatory fit were more likely to engage in systematic exploration of the task environment than were participants in a regulatory mismatch and performed more optimally as a result. Implications for contemporary models of human reinforcement learning are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)797-804
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010


  • decision making
  • exploration
  • motivation
  • regulatory fit
  • reinforcement learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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