Cognitive Psychology

  • The elimination of positive priming with increasing prime duration reflects a transition from perceptual fluency to disfluency rather than bias against primed words
    Publication date: March 2018
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 101

    Author(s): Kevin W. Potter, Chris Donkin, David E. Huber

    With immediate repetition priming of forced choice perceptual identification, short prime durations produce positive priming (i.e., priming the target leads to higher accuracy, while priming the foil leads to lower accuracy). Many theories explain positive priming following short duration primes as reflecting increased perceptual fluency for the primed target (i.e., decreased identification latency). However, most studies only examine either accuracy or response times, rather than considering the joint constraints of response times and accuracy to properly address the role of decision biases and response caution. This is a critical oversight because several theories propose that the transition to negative priming following a long duration prime reflects a decision strategy to compensate for the effect of increased perceptual fluency. In contrast, the nROUSE model of Huber and O’Reilly (2003) explains this transition as reflecting perceptual habituation, and thus a change to perceptual disfluency. We confirmed this prediction by applying a sequential sampling model (the diffusion race model) to accuracy and response time distributions from a new single item same-different version of the priming task. In this way, we measured strategic biases and perceptual fluency in each condition for each subject. The nROUSE model was only applied to accuracy from the original forced-choice version of the priming task. This application of nROUSE produced separate predictions for each subject regarding the degree of fluency and disfluency in each condition, and these predictions were confirmed by the drift rate parameters (i.e., fluency) from the response time model in contrast to the threshold parameters (i.e., bias).





  • Invariants in probabilistic reasoning
    Publication date: February 2018
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 100

    Author(s): Fintan Costello, Paul Watts

    Recent research has identified three invariants or identities that appear to hold in people’s probabilistic reasoning: the QQ identity, the addition law identity, and the Bayes rule identity (Costello and Watts, 2014, 2016a, Fisher and Wolfe, 2014, Wang and Busemeyer, 2013, Wang et al., 2014). Each of these identities represent specific agreement with the requirements of normative probability theory; strikingly, these identities seem to hold in people’s judgements despite the presence of strong and systematic biases against the requirements of normative probability theory in those very same judgements. These results suggest that the systematic biases seen in people’s probabilistic reasoning follow mathematical rules: for these particular identities, these rules cause an overall cancellation of biases and so produce agreement with normative requirements. We assess two competing mathematical models of probabilistic reasoning (the ‘probability theory plus noise’ model and the ‘quantum probability’ model) in terms of their ability to account for this pattern of systematic biases and invariant identities.





  • The action is in the task set, not in the action
    Publication date: February 2018
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 100

    Author(s): Maria M. Robinson, John Clevenger, David E. Irwin

    In 7 experiments we contrasted two accounts for novel sources of attentional bias. According to the action-based account, executing a motor response towards an object causes people to allocate attention preferentially towards properties of that object in a subsequent task even when properties of the acted-on object are task irrelevant. This remarkable view entails that motor processing is in itself sufficient to affect later attentional processing, in the absence of stimulus evaluation and motor preparation. In contrast, the attentional template matching account posits that observing an external object that matches one’s prior attentional settings increases processing of that object even when properties of the item are no longer task relevant. Our findings indicate that when properties of a stimulus are task irrelevant, acting towards that object does not produce priming effects over and above what is observed from passive viewing of the object. Furthermore, when properties of the stimulus are task relevant, effects on attention are observed only when participants have sufficient information to generate a task based attentional template of the upcoming stimulus, regardless of whether they act towards the stimulus or not. Finally, effects on attention are found under conditions when participants are likely to experience an attentional template match but do not produce a response. Collectively, these results reveal that previously reported motor-based effects on attention instead reflect the effects of attentional bias towards objects that serve as prior targets. Our findings thus provide strong support for the attentional template view and no support for the action-based view.





  • Editorial Board
    Publication date: December 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 99









  • Enabling spontaneous analogy through heuristic change
    Publication date: December 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 99

    Author(s): Thomas C. Ormerod, James N. MacGregor

    Despite analogy playing a central role in theories of problem solving, learning and education, demonstrations of spontaneous analogical transfer are rare. Here, we present a theory of heuristic change for spontaneous analogical transfer, tested in four experiments that manipulated the experience of failure to solve a source problem prior to attempting a target problem. In Experiment 1, participants solved more source problems that contained an additional financial constraint designed to signal the inappropriateness of moves that maximized progress towards the goal. This constraint also led to higher rates of spontaneous analogical transfer to a superficially similar problem. Experiments 2 and 3 showed that the effects of this constraint extend to superficially and structurally different analogs. Experiment 4 generalized the finding to a non-analogous target problem that also benefitted from inhibiting maximizing moves. The results indicate that spontaneous transfer can arise through experience during the solution of a source problem that alters the heuristic chosen for solving both analogical and non-analogical target problems.





  • Children’s representation of abstract relations in relational/array match-to-sample tasks
    Publication date: December 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 99

    Author(s): Jean-Rémy Hochmann, Arin S. Tuerk, Sophia Sanborn, Rebecca Zhu, Robert Long, Meg Dempster, Susan Carey

    Five experiments compared preschool children’s performance to that of adults and of non-human animals on match to sample tasks involving 2-item or 16-item arrays that varied according to their composition of same or different items (Array Match-to-Sample, AMTS). They establish that, like non-human animals in most studies, 3- and 4-year-olds fail 2-item AMTS (the classic relational match to sample task introduced into the literature by Premack, 1983), and that robust success is not observed until age 6. They also establish that 3-year-olds, like non-human animal species, succeed only when they are able to encode stimuli in terms of entropy, a property of an array (namely its internal variability), rather than relations among the individuals in the array (same vs. different), whereas adults solve both 2-item and 16-item AMTS on the basis of the relations same and different. As in the case of non-human animals, the acuity of 3- and 4-year-olds’ representation of entropy is insufficient to solve the 2-item same-different AMTS task. At age 4, behavior begins to contrast with that of non-human species. On 16-item AMTS, a subgroup of 4-year-olds induce a categorical rule matching all-same arrays to all-same arrays, while matching other arrays (mixed arrays of same and different items) to all-different arrays. These children tend to justify their choices using the words “same” and “different.” By age 4 a number of our participants succeed at 2-item AMTS, also justifying their choices by explicit verbal appeals using words for same and different. Taken together these results suggest that the recruitment of the relational representations corresponding to the meaning of these words contributes to the better performance over the preschool years at solving array match-to-sample tasks.





  • Compositional inductive biases in function learning
    Publication date: December 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 99

    Author(s): Eric Schulz, Joshua B. Tenenbaum, David Duvenaud, Maarten Speekenbrink, Samuel J. Gershman

    How do people recognize and learn about complex functional structure? Taking inspiration from other areas of cognitive science, we propose that this is achieved by harnessing compositionality: complex structure is decomposed into simpler building blocks. We formalize this idea within the framework of Bayesian regression using a grammar over Gaussian process kernels, and compare this approach with other structure learning approaches. Participants consistently chose compositional (over non-compositional) extrapolations and interpolations of functions. Experiments designed to elicit priors over functional patterns revealed an inductive bias for compositional structure. Compositional functions were perceived as subjectively more predictable than non-compositional functions, and exhibited other signatures of predictability, such as enhanced memorability and reduced numerosity. Taken together, these results support the view that the human intuitive theory of functions is inherently compositional.





  • Editorial Board
    Publication date: November 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 98









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