Choosing increases the value of non-instrumental information

Sci Rep. 2021 Apr 22;11(1):8780. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-88031-y.


Curiosity pervades all aspects of human behaviour and decision-making. Recent research indicates that the value of information is determined by its propensity to reduce uncertainty, and the hedonic value of the outcomes it predicts. Previous findings also indicate a preference for options that are freely chosen, compared to equivalently valued alternatives that are externally assigned. Here, we asked whether the value of information also varies as a function of self- or externally-imposed choices. Participants rated their preference for information that followed either a self-chosen decision, or an externally imposed condition. Our results showed that choosing a lottery significantly increased the subjective value of information about the outcome. Computational modelling indicated that this change in information-seeking behaviour was not due to changes in the subjective probability of winning, but instead reflected an independent effect of choosing on the value of resolving uncertainty. These results demonstrate that agency over a prospect is an important source of information value.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't