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      Single- and Dual-Process Models of Biased Contingency Detection


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          Abstract. Decades of research in causal and contingency learning show that people’s estimations of the degree of contingency between two events are easily biased by the relative probabilities of those two events. If two events co-occur frequently, then people tend to overestimate the strength of the contingency between them. Traditionally, these biases have been explained in terms of relatively simple single-process models of learning and reasoning. However, more recently some authors have found that these biases do not appear in all dependent variables and have proposed dual-process models to explain these dissociations between variables. In the present paper we review the evidence for dissociations supporting dual-process models and we point out important shortcomings of this literature. Some dissociations seem to be difficult to replicate or poorly generalizable and others can be attributed to methodological artifacts. Overall, we conclude that support for dual-process models of biased contingency detection is scarce and inconclusive.

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          Most cited references126

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          Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: the implicit association test.

          An implicit association test (IAT) measures differential association of 2 target concepts with an attribute. The 2 concepts appear in a 2-choice task (2-choice task (e.g., flower vs. insect names), and the attribute in a 2nd task (e.g., pleasant vs. unpleasant words for an evaluation attribute). When instructions oblige highly associated categories (e.g., flower + pleasant) to share a response key, performance is faster than when less associated categories (e.g., insect & pleasant) share a key. This performance difference implicitly measures differential association of the 2 concepts with the attribute. In 3 experiments, the IAT was sensitive to (a) near-universal evaluative differences (e.g., flower vs. insect), (b) expected individual differences in evaluative associations (Japanese + pleasant vs. Korean + pleasant for Japanese vs. Korean subjects), and (c) consciously disavowed evaluative differences (Black + pleasant vs. White + pleasant for self-described unprejudiced White subjects).
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            Associative and propositional processes in evaluation: an integrative review of implicit and explicit attitude change.

            A central theme in recent research on attitudes is the distinction between deliberate, "explicit" attitudes and automatic, "implicit" attitudes. The present article provides an integrative review of the available evidence on implicit and explicit attitude change that is guided by a distinction between associative and propositional processes. Whereas associative processes are characterized by mere activation independent of subjective truth or falsity, propositional reasoning is concerned with the validation of evaluations and beliefs. The proposed associative-propositional evaluation (APE) model makes specific assumptions about the mutual interplay of the 2 processes, implying several mechanisms that lead to symmetric or asymmetric changes in implicit and explicit attitudes. The model integrates a broad range of empirical evidence and implies several new predictions for implicit and explicit attitude change.
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              Judgment of contingency in depressed and nondepressed students: sadder but wiser?

              How are humans' subjective judgments of contingencies related to objective contingencies? Work in social psychology and human contingency learning predicts that the greater the frequency of desired outcomes, the greater people's judgments of contingency will be. Second, the learned helplessness theory of depression provides both a strong and a weak prediction concerning the linkage between subjective and objective contingencies. According to the strong prediction, depressed individuals should underestimate the degree of contingency between their responses and outcomes relative to the objective degree of contingency. According to the weak prediction, depressed individuals merely should judge that there is a smaller degree of contingency between their responses and outcomes than nondepressed individuals should. In addition, the present investigation deduced a new strong prediction from the helplessness theory: Nondepressed individuals should overestimate the degree of contingency between their responses and outcomes relative to the objective degree of contingency. In the experiments, depressed and nondepressed students were present with one of a series of problems varying in the actual degree of contingency. In each problem, subjects estimated the degree of contingency between their responses (pressing or not pressing a button) and an environmental outcome (onset of a green light). Performance on a behavioral task and estimates of the conditional probability of green light onset associated with the two response alternatives provided additional measures for assessing beliefs about contingencies. Depressed students' judgments of contingency were surprisingly accurate in all four experiments. Nondepressed students, on the other hand, overestimated the degree of contingency between their responses and outcomes when noncontingent outcomes were frequent and/or desired and underestimated the degree of contingency when contingent outcomes were undesired. Thus, predictions derived from social psychology concerning the linkage between subjective and objective contingencies were confirmed for nondepressed students but not for depressed students. Further, the predictions of helplessness theory received, at best, minimal support. The learned helplessness and self-serving motivational bias hypotheses are evaluated as explanations of the results. In addition, parallels are drawn between the present results and phenomena in cognitive psychology, social psychology, and animal learning. Finally, implications for cognitive illusions in normal people, appetitive helplessness, judgment of contingency between stimuli, and learning theory are discussed.

                Author and article information

                Exp Psychol
                Exp Psychol
                Experimental Psychology
                Hogrefe Publishing
                March 29, 2016
                : 63
                : 1
                : 3-19
                [ 1 ]Primary Care and Public Health Sciences, King’s College London, UK
                [ 2 ]Department of Experimental Psychology, University College London, UK
                [ 3 ]Departamento de Fundamentos y Métodos de la Psicología, Universidad de Deusto, Bilbao, Spain
                Author notes
                Miguel A. Vadillo, Primary Care and Public Health Sciences, King’s College London, Addison House, Guy's Campus, London SE1 1UL, UK, Tel. +44 207 848-6620, Fax +44 207 848-6652, E-mail miguel.vadillo@ 123456kcl.ac.uk
                © 2016 Hogrefe Publishing

                Distributed under the Hogrefe OpenMind License http://dx.doi.org/10.1027/a000001

                Theoretical Article

                associative models,cognitive biases,contingency learning,cue-density bias,dual-process models,illusory correlations,outcome-density bias,propositional models


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