Previous research has shown in a motor decision task involving a target (yielding a reward) and overlapping penalty area (yielding a loss), people initially aim closer to the penalty area than optimal. This risky strategy may be adopted to increase target hits, thereby increasing net worth. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether the starting net worth level (either 5,000 or 0 points) affected the influence of task experience on endpoint selection. It was hypothesized the 5,000-point group should adopt a less risky strategy and aim further from the penalty area than those with 0 points. Net worth affected participants’ initial endpoint where the 5,000-point group aimed further from the penalty circle, and closer to the optimal endpoint, than the 0-point group. The 0-point group adapted their endpoint over the course session to aim closer to the optimal endpoint whereas no such change was seen in the 5,000-point group. The results show that changing the participants’ reference point through initial net worth can affect the optimality of participants’ endpoint and how endpoints change with experience.
The authors are with the Centre for Motor Control, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.