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Outcome and cue properties modulate blocking

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Participants saw a series of situations in which a cue (a light appearing at a certain position) could be followed by an outcome (a drawing of a tank that exploded) and were afterwards asked to rate the likelihood of the outcome in the presence of the cue. In Experiments 1 and 2, the compound cues AT and KL were always followed by the outcome (AT+, KL+). During an elemental phase that either preceded or followed the compound phase, Cue A was also paired with the outcome (A+). Cue T elicited a lower rating than Cues K and L when cues were described as being weapons but not when the cues were said to be indicators. The magnitude of this blocking effect was also influenced by whether the outcome occurred to a maximal or submaximal extent. Experiment 3 replicated the effect of cue instructions on blocking (A+, AT+) but showed that cue instructions had no impact on reduced overshadowing (B–, BT+). The results shed new light on previous findings and support probabilistic contrast models of human contingency judgements.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Southampton, Southampton, UK 2: University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Publication date: 01 August 2002

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