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When learning order affects sensitivity to base rates: Challenges for theories of causal learning


Reips, U D; Waldmann, M (2008). When learning order affects sensitivity to base rates: Challenges for theories of causal learning. Experimental Psychology, 55(1):9-22.

Abstract

In three experiments we investigated whether two procedures of acquiring knowledge about the same causal structure, predictive learning (from causes to effects) versus diagnostic learning (from effects to causes), would lead to different base-rate use in diagnostic judgments. Results showed that learners are capable of incorporating base-rate information in their judgments regardless of the direction in which the causal structure is learned. However, this only holds true for relatively simple scenarios. When complexity was increased, base rates were only used after diagnostic learning, but were largely neglected after predictive learning. It could be shown that this asymmetry is not due to a failure of encoding base rates in predictive learning because participants in all conditions were fairly good at reporting them. The findings present challenges for all theories of causal learning.

In three experiments we investigated whether two procedures of acquiring knowledge about the same causal structure, predictive learning (from causes to effects) versus diagnostic learning (from effects to causes), would lead to different base-rate use in diagnostic judgments. Results showed that learners are capable of incorporating base-rate information in their judgments regardless of the direction in which the causal structure is learned. However, this only holds true for relatively simple scenarios. When complexity was increased, base rates were only used after diagnostic learning, but were largely neglected after predictive learning. It could be shown that this asymmetry is not due to a failure of encoding base rates in predictive learning because participants in all conditions were fairly good at reporting them. The findings present challenges for all theories of causal learning.

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7 citations in Web of Science®
7 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:30 Oct 2008 13:59
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:31
Publisher:Hogrefe & Huber
ISSN:1618-3169
Publisher DOI:10.1027/1618-3169.55.1.9
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-4563

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