Prior belief and polarity in multicue learning

Evans, Jonathan St. B. T. and Clibbens, John and Harris, Anita (2005) Prior belief and polarity in multicue learning. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A, 58 (4). pp. 651-665. ISSN 0272-4987

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Abstract

We report two experiments in which participants are trained using a multicue probability
learning (MCPL) task, which attempts to simulate the acquisition of expert judgement by experience
in the real world. Participants were asked to predict performance in certain occupations
given a profile of personality test results with trial-by-trial outcome feedback. Only some cues
were relevant, and the polarity of the cues (positive or negative predictors) was unspecified. In
addition, 25% of random noise was added to the feedback to simulate real world uncertainty.
The main factor of interest was that the role of prior belief (determined in a separate study of
stereotypes) interfered with the learning process. Experiment 1 failed to find any influence of prior belief in the cues that were irrelevant to the criterion being trained. However, in Experiment 2 people learned to use the relevant cues better when their effect conformed with rather than conflicted with prior belief. Both experiments showed strong effects of cue polarity, with positive predictors much more easily learned. The results are discussed with reference to the cognitive processes involved in MCPL and closely related tasks.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Psychology
UoA Collections > UoA 04: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Depositing User: John Clibbens
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2017 09:59
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2017 09:59
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4157

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