Term of Award

Summer 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Lawrence Locker

Committee Member 1

Kent Bodily

Committee Member 2

Jessica Bodily

Committee Member 3

Ty Boyer

Committee Member 3 Email



The Monty Hall dilemma (MHD) is a probability puzzle at which humans consistently fail to adopt the optimal winning strategy. The participant chooses between three identical doors, behind one of which is a valuable prize. After the participant makes their initial decision, the host reveals that there is nothing behind one of the two remaining doors, then asks the participant if they would like to stay with their originally selected door or switch to the remaining unopened door. The optimal choice is to switch to the previously unchosen door, which increases the probability of winning from 33% to 67%. Despite this basic solution, humans repeatedly perform suboptimally. Previous attempts to improve performance by increasing the number of available doors have been successful (Burns & Weith, 2004; Franko-Watkins et al., 2003; Saenen et al., 2015; Stibel et al., 2009; Watzek et al., 2018). However, prior studies that examined whether this improved performance could generalize to different contexts have been inconclusive (Franko-Watkins et al., 2003; Watzek et al., 2018). To examine whether human performance can generalize across two computerized variations of the MHD, the present study explored how previous experience involving trials presented with eight options affects switching percentages in subsequent trials with three options. The results failed to replicate findings from previous studies, which demonstrated that rates of switching increased as a function of more available options. Implications of and explanations for this replication failure are discussed. Further exploration of the MHD is needed before definitive conclusions can be made regarding humans’ ability to generalize knowledge between task variations.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material