The Effect of the Frequency of Judgment and the Type of Trials on Covariation Learning

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This study showed that accuracy of the estimated relationship between a fictitious symptom and a disease depends on the interaction between the frequency of judgment and the last trial type. This effect appeared both in positive and zero contingencies (Experiment 1), and judgments were less accurate as frequency increased (Experiment 2). The effect can be explained neither by interference of previous judgments or memory demands (Experiment 3), nor by the perceptual characteristics of the stimuli (Experiments 4 and 5), and instructions intended to alter processing strategies do not produce any reliable effect. The interaction between frequency and trial type on covariation judgment is not predicted by any model (either statistical or associative) currently used to explain performance in covariation detection. The authors propose a belief-revision model to explain this effect as an important response mode variable on covariation learning.

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