Don't go changing on me: Consistent feedback is necessary for optimal endpoint selection in the context of changing rewards


When values - reward or penalties - change in the aiming environment, participants must adjust their endpoint to maximize their gain. Previous research has shown that participants need to consistent feedback to aim to an optimal endpoint in the context of changing penalties. Other research has shown that participants weight positive and negative values differently in cognitive decision-making tasks but no research has examined the effect of manipulating rewards on endpoint selection. The purpose of the present study was first, to determine if participants adjust their endpoint in the context of changing rewards and secondarily, whether participants need consistent feedback to do so. Participants aimed to a target that was overlapped by a penalty region. Participants gained points for hitting the target but lost points for hitting the penalty region. The reward was set at either 100 or 600 points and the reward changed trial-to-trial (Random Condition) or only between blocks of trials (Blocked Condition). If participants need consistent feedback to aim optimally, there should only be a difference in endpoint between reward values in the Blocked condition where participants receive consistent feedback from aiming in the same value context on each trial. There was a significant interaction between reward and blocking condition where participants adjusted their endpoints with changing reward in the Blocked but not Random condition. Further, there was a correlation between endpoint selection and participants' risk sensitivity as measured through a questionnaire. The results indicate that participants can adjust their endpoints to changing reward values but only with consistent feedback.

Acknowledgments: Research was funded through an NSERC Discovery Grant