The multiattribute linear ballistic accumulator model of context effects in multialternative choice

Psychol Rev. 2014 Apr;121(2):179-205. doi: 10.1037/a0036137.


Context effects occur when a choice between 2 options is altered by adding a 3rd alternative. Three major context effects--similarity, compromise, and attraction--have wide-ranging implications across applied and theoretical domains, and have driven the development of new dynamic models of multiattribute and multialternative choice. We propose the multiattribute linear ballistic accumulator (MLBA), a new dynamic model that provides a quantitative account of all 3 context effects. Our account applies not only to traditional paradigms involving choices among hedonic stimuli, but also to recent demonstrations of context effects with nonhedonic stimuli. Because of its computational tractability, the MLBA model is more easily applied than previous dynamic models. We show that the model also accounts for a range of other phenomena in multiattribute, multialternative choice, including time pressure effects, and that it makes a new prediction about the relationship between deliberation time and the magnitude of the similarity effect, which we confirm experimentally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior*
  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Intuition
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Motivation
  • Probability
  • Visual Perception