When learning order affects sensitivity to base rates: challenges for theories of causal learning.

Abstract

In three experiments we investigated whether two procedures of acquiring knowledge about the same causal structure, predictive learning (from causes to effects) versus diagnostic learning (from effects to causes), would lead to different base-rate use in diagnostic judgments. Results showed that learners are capable of incorporating base-rate information in their judgments regardless of the direction in which the causal structure is learned. However, this only holds true for relatively simple scenarios. When complexity was increased, base rates were only used after diagnostic learning, but were largely neglected after predictive learning. It could be shown that this asymmetry is not due to a failure of encoding base rates in predictive learning because participants in all conditions were fairly good at reporting them. The findings present challenges for all theories of causal learning.

Cite this paper

@article{Reips2008WhenLO, title={When learning order affects sensitivity to base rates: challenges for theories of causal learning.}, author={Ulf-Dietrich Reips and Michael R. Waldmann}, journal={Experimental psychology}, year={2008}, volume={55 1}, pages={9-22} }