First Impressions and updating of beliefs: Biases in smoking cessation treatment exploitation
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First impressions can be biased and influence future decision-making behavior where people tend to exploit one option rather than engaging in exploration (Mehlhorn et al., 2015). The present study investigates whether, in a reward-rich environment, the individuals will form pseudocontingency biases towards a treatment option and maintain it in a free sampling task. The research is a conceptual replication of the study by Harris et al. (2020), investigating the underlined concept in a health context. In a two-armed bandit task, the participants sample between two smoking cessation treatments to minimize their nicotine symptoms. The results supported our first hypothesis as the participants sampled the frequent treatment option based on their pseudocontingency bias. However, our second hypothesis stating that the initial biases will persist in a free sampling phase was not supported. The participants sampled both the treatments and engaged in exploration. Finally, the third hypothesis tested was also supported. We observed that the intervention group in the free sampling phase maintained their initial biases in later trials. Hence, even though people form biases in reward-rich environments, these biases are not necessarily always influential in their subsequent decision making. Moreover, the initial biases were upheld in a reward-rich environment. Therefore, we could not draw firm conclusions regarding the maintenance of initial biases because we observe two groups with contrasting sampling behaviour. Thus, future research should investigate further by exploring different health contexts.