Do not fear your opponent: Suboptimal changes of a prevention strategy when facing stronger opponents. By Fernandez Slezak, Diego Sigman, Mariano Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Oct 17 , 2011
The time spent making a decision and its quality define a widely studied trade-off. Some models suggest that the time spent is set to optimize reward, as verified empirically in simple-decision making experiments.
However…adjustment of the speed–accuracy trade-off may not be optimal. Specifically…theory shows that people can be set in a… mode, where focus is on seeking …to win), or in a prevention mode, focusing…(on) not to lose). In promotion, people are eager to take risks increasing speed and decreasing accuracy. In prevention, strategic vigilance increases, decreasing speed and improving accuracy.
When time and accuracy have to be compromised, one can ask which of these 2 strategies optimizes reward, leading to optimal performance. This is investigated here in a unique experimental environment. Decision making is studied in rapid-chess (180 seconds per game)…In different games, players face strong and weak opponents.
It was observed that (a) players adopt a more conservative strategy when facing strong opponents, with slower and more accurate moves, and (b) this strategy is suboptimal: Players increase their winning likelihood against strong opponents using the policy they adopt when confronting opponents with similar strength.