An entropic barriers diffusion theory of decision-making in multiple alternative tasks
We present a theory of decision-making in the presence of multiple choices that departs from traditional approaches by explicitly incorporating entropic barriers in a stochastic search process. We analyze response time data from an on-line repository of 15 million blitz chess games, and show that our model fits not just the mean and variance, but the entire response time distribution (over several response-time orders of magnitude) at every stage of the game. We apply the model to show that (a) higher cognitive expertise corresponds to the exploration of more complex solution spaces, and (b) reaction times of users at an on-line buying website can be similarly explained. Our model can be seen as a synergy between diffusion models used to model simple two-choice decision-making and planning agents in complex problem solving.