Consensus effects in categorization decisions

Joachim Meyer, Sharon Gilat, Ido Erev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A previous study (Gilat et al., J. Exp. Psychol. Appl. 3 (1997) 83) has shown that the incentive to reach consensus can raise the tendency to rely on base rates in signal detection decisions and can reduce the probability that less likely events will be accurately classified. This phenomenon was named the "consensus effect". The current study assesses the conditions under which this effect develops and in particular the effects of information about the game and of the incentive structure on the learning process. The results of three experiments show that the learning process slows when participants have information about the actual state of nature. This finding is captured by a reinforcement learning model with the assumption that information narrows the distribution of the initial propensities for choosing among cutoffs. The results are further evidence for the utility of the combination of learning models and analyses of cognitive processes for the prediction of decision making in situations involving multiple players.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-428
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Mathematical Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Base rate
  • Consensus
  • Game theory
  • Probability matching
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Signal detection


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