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ERIC Number: EJ859947
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Oct
Pages: 35
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0033-295X
Rational Adaptation under Task and Processing Constraints: Implications for Testing Theories of Cognition and Action
Howes, Andrew; Lewis, Richard L.; Vera, Alonso
Psychological Review, v116 n4 p717-751 Oct 2009
The authors assume that individuals adapt rationally to a utility function given constraints imposed by their cognitive architecture and the local task environment. This assumption underlies a new approach to modeling and understanding cognition--cognitively bounded rational analysis--that sharpens the predictive acuity of general, integrated theories of cognition and action. Such theories provide the necessary computational means to explain the flexible nature of human behavior but in doing so introduce extreme degrees of freedom in accounting for data. The new approach narrows the space of predicted behaviors through analysis of the payoff achieved by alternative strategies, rather than through fitting strategies and theoretical parameters to data. It extends and complements established approaches, including computational cognitive architectures, rational analysis, optimal motor control, bounded rationality, and signal detection theory. The authors illustrate the approach with a reanalysis of an existing account of psychological refractory period (PRP) dual-task performance and the development and analysis of a new theory of ordered dual-task responses. These analyses yield several novel results, including a new understanding of the role of strategic variation in existing accounts of PRP and the first predictive, quantitative account showing how the details of ordered dual-task phenomena emerge from the rational control of a cognitive system subject to the combined constraints of internal variance, motor interference, and a response selection bottleneck. (Contains 5 footnotes, 3 tables, and 11 figures.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A