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Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

  • Adaptation and fallibility in experts’ judgments of novice performers.
    Competition judges are often selected for their expertise, under the belief that a high level of performance expertise should enable accurate judgments of the competitors. Contrary to this assumption, we find evidence that expertise can reduce judgment accuracy. Adaptation level theory proposes that discriminatory capacity decreases with greater distance from one’s adaptation level. Because experts’ learning has produced an adaptation level close to ideal performance standards, they may be less able to discriminate among lower-level competitors. As a result, expertise increases judgment accuracy of high-level competitions but decreases judgment accuracy of low-level competitions. Additionally, we demonstrate that, consistent with an adaptation level theory account of expert judgment, experts systematically give more critical ratings than intermediates or novices. In summary, this work demonstrates a systematic change in human perception that occurs as task learning increases. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Drawing the line between constituent structure and coherence relations in visual narratives.
    Theories of visual narrative understanding have often focused on the changes in meaning across a sequence, like shifts in characters, spatial location, and causation, as cues for breaks in the structure of a discourse. In contrast, the theory of visual narrative grammar posits that hierarchic “grammatical” structures operate at the discourse level using categorical roles for images, which may or may not co-occur with shifts in coherence. We therefore examined the relationship between narrative structure and coherence shifts in the segmentation of visual narrative sequences using a “segmentation task” where participants drew lines between images in order to divide them into subepisodes. We used regressions to analyze the influence of the expected constituent structure boundary, narrative categories, and semantic coherence relationships on the segmentation of visual narrative sequences. Narrative categories were a stronger predictor of segmentation than linear coherence relationships between panels, though both influenced participants’ divisions. Altogether, these results support the theory that meaningful sequential images use a narrative grammar that extends above and beyond linear semantic shifts between discourse units. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Activation cascading in sign production.
    In this study, we investigated how activation unfolds in sign production by examining whether signs that are not produced have their representations activated by semantics (cascading of activation). Deaf signers were tested with a picture–picture interference task. Participants were presented with pairs of overlapping pictures and named the green picture (target) while ignoring the red picture (distractor). In Experiment 1 we varied whether target and distractor pictures had similar signs. Signs were produced faster with sign-related picture pairs compared to unrelated picture pairs. The facilitation observed with sign-related pairs replicates the 1 obtained in speaking with sound-related pairs (e.g., bed–bell), a finding cited in support of cascading of activation. In Experiments 2A and 2B we focused on sign iconicity, anticipating that cascading of activation would lead to a facilitatory effect of iconicity. Consistent with this prediction, picture distractors with iconic signs induced faster responses. Furthermore, in Experiment 3, facilitation was found for iconic signs in picture naming. Altogether, our results reveal that cascading of activation is a fundamental aspect of language processing that is at play not only in speaking, but also in signing. Our results also help to define which signs are activated in sign production. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Conflict and bias in heuristic judgment.
    Conflict has been hypothesized to play a key role in recruiting deliberative processing in reasoning and judgment tasks. This claim suggests that changing the task so as to add incorrect heuristic responses that conflict with existing heuristic responses can make individuals less likely to respond heuristically and can increase response accuracy. We tested this prediction in experiments involving judgments of argument strength and word frequency, and found that participants are more likely to avoid heuristic bias and respond correctly in settings with 2 incorrect heuristic response options compared with similar settings with only 1 heuristic response option. Our results provide strong evidence for conflict as a mechanism influencing the interaction between heuristic and deliberative thought, and illustrate how accuracy can be increased through simple changes to the response sets offered to participants. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Strategic control over extent and timing of distractor-based response activation.
    In choice reaction time (RT) tasks, performance is often influenced by the presence of nominally irrelevant stimuli, referred to as distractors. Recent research provided evidence that distractor processing can be adjusted to the utility of the distractors: Distractors predictive of the upcoming target/response were more attended to and also elicited stronger motor responses. In an event-related potential (ERP) study, we investigated whether not only the extent of distractor processing (as suggested by these previous results), but also the timing of distractor-based response activation is subject to strategic control. In a temporal flanker task, in which a distractor stimulus preceded the target, we manipulated distractor utility (i.e., by varying the proportion of congruent distractor–target combinations, 75% vs. 25%) as well as the stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) between distractors and targets (350 ms vs. 1,000 ms) in different blocks of trials. The distractor-locked lateralized readiness potential (LRP) was overall larger in blocks with a high proportion of congruent trials indicating stronger distractor-based response activation when distractor utility was high. Of importance, the LRPs occurred overall later when the SOA was long. This suggests that distractor-based response activation can be postponed and thus adjusted to the temporal factors of the context. Modulations of early visual potentials (P1 and N1) indicate that this postponement of motor activation is related to both sensory-perceptual downgrading of distractor stimuli and reduced activation of task-relevant stimulus–response transformation processes at the time of distractor perception. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

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