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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

A Decision-By-Sampling Account of Decision Under Risk

Grant reference: RES-062-23-0952

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Journal article details

Does the brain calculate value?
How do people choose between options? At one extreme, the 'value-first' view is that the brain computes the value of different options and simply favours options with higher values. An intermediate position, taken by many psychological models of judgment and decision making, is that values are computed but that the resulting choices depend heavily on the context of available options. At the other extreme, the 'comparison-only' view argues that choice depends directly on comparisons, with or even without any intermediate computation of value. In this paper, we place past and current psychological and neuroscientific theories on this spectrum, and review empirical data that have led to an increasing focus on comparison rather than value as the driver of choice.

Primary contributor

Author Ivo Vlaev

Additional contributors

Co-author Nick Chater
Co-author Neil Stewart
Co-author Gordon Brown

Additional details

Cell Press, Elsevier
01 November 2011
Cambridge, MA
Trends in cognitive sciences

Cite this outcome


Vlaev, Ivo et al (2011) Does the brain calculate value?. Trends in cognitive sciences. 15 (11), pp. 546-554 Cambridge, MA: Cell Press, Elsevier.


Vlaev Ivo et al. Does the brain calculate value?. Trends in cognitive sciences 2011; 15 (11): 546-554.