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Abolishing the effect of reinforcement delay on human causal learning

Buehner, Marc J. and May, Jon 2004. Abolishing the effect of reinforcement delay on human causal learning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Series B Comparative and Physiological Psychology 57 (2) , pp. 179-191. 10.1080/02724990344000123

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Associative learning theory postulates two main determinants for human causal learning: contingency and contiguity. In line with such an account, participants in Shanks, Pearson, and Dickinson (1989) failed to discover causal relations involving delays of more than two seconds. More recent research has shown that the impact of contiguity and delay is mediated by prior knowledge about the timeframe of the causal relation in question. Buehner and May (2002, 2003) demonstrated that the detrimental effect of delay can be significantly reduced if reasoners are aware of potential delays. Here we demonstrate for the first time that the negative influence of delay can be abolished completely by a subtle change in the experimental instructions. Temporal contiguity is thus not essential for human causal learning. An associative learning analysis of human causal learning postulates two main determinants

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
ISSN: 0272-4995
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 02:48

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