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ERIC Number: EJ1119142
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Nov
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
The Role of Feedback Contingency in Perceptual Category Learning
Ashby, F. Gregory; Vucovich, Lauren E.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v42 n11 p1731-1746 Nov 2016
Feedback is highly contingent on behavior if it eventually becomes easy to predict, and weakly contingent on behavior if it remains difficult or impossible to predict even after learning is complete. Many studies have demonstrated that humans and nonhuman animals are highly sensitive to feedback contingency, but no known studies have examined how feedback contingency affects category learning, and current theories assign little or no importance to this variable. Two experiments examined the effects of contingency degradation on rule-based and information-integration category learning. In rule-based tasks, optimal accuracy is possible with a simple explicit rule, whereas optimal accuracy in information-integration tasks requires integrating information from 2 or more incommensurable perceptual dimensions. In both experiments, participants each learned rule-based or information-integration categories under either high or low levels of feedback contingency. The exact same stimuli were used in all 4 conditions, and optimal accuracy was identical in every condition. Learning was good in both high-contingency conditions, but most participants showed little or no evidence of learning in either low-contingency condition. Possible causes of these effects, as well as their theoretical implications, are discussed.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (DHHS)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California (Santa Barbara)
Grant or Contract Numbers: 2R01MH063760