Treasure Hunt (information gathering)

While you were hunting treasures in space, you helped us to collect data on how you gather new information and how (in-)decisive you are. We will combine your data with thousands of other people to understand how gathering new information changes with age and how it is linked to mental health.

What are we studying?

We have designed this game to study how people collect new information before making a decision. This is important, especially if you know only little about what the consequences of these decisions are. For example, some people spend ages looking at the menu in a restaurant and asking the waiter for suggestions, whilst others decide instantly. Why? Sometimes, not spending too much time before making a decision is efficient. However, for big decisions, such as deciding which university to go to or which career path to take, you may want to do a lot more research about your options before making a choice.

In this game, you were gathering information by digging on islands to find out which treasure there is more of. We can use the number of islands you inspected before you decided which treasure there is more of as a measure of information gathering. Inspecting for longer helps you to avoid making wrong choices, however the more sites you inspect, the more time it takes. Therefore, gathering too much information can sometimes be inconvenient. Nevertheless, we know that some people need more certainty in their decisions and consequently, they are willing to spend the time to gather more information. On the other hand, other people are more impulsive and would rather spend less time gathering new information and risk making the wrong choice.

Why are we interested in that?

In our previous research, using a similar game, we have found that adolescents suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, need more information before they make a decision compared to healthy individuals. Individuals affected by OCD have obsessive thoughts, which can include unwanted thoughts, images, urges, worries or doubts that appear repeatedly in their mind and can make them feel very uncomfortable or anxious. They also experience compulsive behaviours, which are repetitive activities that are done to lessen the distress that comes from unwanted thoughts and images. Individuals who are affected by OCD sometimes also experience indecisiveness and thus need to gather more information.

Why are we doing this study?

We have created this game to explore whether we can detect the extensive information gathering in specific subgroups within individuals who are suffering from OCD using large sample data. With your help, we may also find that some other groups of people gather information differently, which will help us to better understand the relationship between information gathering and mental health.


Further reading:

Hauser TU, Moutoussis M, Iannaccone R, Brem S, Walitza S, Drechsler R, Dayan P & Dolan RJ (2017). Increased decision thresholds enhance information gathering performance in juvenile obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). PLoS Comput Biol 13(4):e1005440

Hauser TU, Moutoussis M, NSPN Consortium, Dayan P & Dolan RJ (2017). Increased decision thresholds trigger extended information gathering across the compulsivity spectrum. Translat Psychiatry 7(12):1296