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Learning With Selective Feedback: Effects on Performance and Coding of Unknown Outcomes
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In experiential learning, one important source of information is the feedback that people receive on the outcomes of their decisions. Typically, however, feedback is systematically absent for many decisions and the actual experience of people may therefore be highly selective. It is thus surprising that research on the cognitive processes involved in human judgement and categorisation has not addressed the effects of learning with selective feedback. In this thesis, three studies are presented in which the effects of learning with systematically selective feedback were investigated.

The hypothesis of constructivist coding was introduced in Study I, suggesting a cognitive mechanism for the processing of selective information. In the absence of external feedback people infer the most likely outcome, and then code this inference into memory as “internal feedback”. This internally generated feedback is stored and processed in the same manner as externally presented feedback and is used as a basis for beliefs about the characteristics of the environment. Results from Studies I, II, and III demonstrated support for constructivist coding under varied learning conditions.

Study III investigated the effects on the beliefs of participants when they learn from feedback received only for positive decisions. Results indicated that the participants’ beliefs well reflected their actual, however selective, experience. When participants aimed to achieve good immediate outcomes, their experience became restrictive and biased, resulting in biased beliefs. In contrast, when the focus of participants was on long-term learning, their decisions produced a more representative experience and their beliefs came to reflect the actual structure of the environment. Biased beliefs were thus demonstrated to result from a sensitivity of participants to selectively available information.

The present findings offer an understanding of the cognitive processes involved in learning from selectively absent feedback. The conclusions propose a sensitivity of participants to objectively experienced information in the forming of knowledge and beliefs. Further, when external information is absent, participants appear to rely on their knowledge and expectations to infer and code the most likely outcome, and use these stored inferences to form a coherent representation of the environment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2009. , p. 86
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 51
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-106880ISBN: 978-91-554-7568-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-106880DiVA, id: diva2:227867
Public defence
2009-09-18, Auditoriet, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 73, Uppsala, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-08-25 Created: 2009-07-08 Last updated: 2009-08-25Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Constructivist Coding: Learning from Selective Feedback
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Constructivist Coding: Learning from Selective Feedback
2007 (English)In: Psychological Science, ISSN 0956-7976, E-ISSN 1467-9280, Vol. 18, no 2, p. 105-110Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Although much learning in real-life environments relies on highly selective feedback about outcomes, virtually all cognitive models of learning, judgment, and categorization assume complete and representative feedback. We investigated empirically the effect of selective feedback on decision making and how people code experience with selective feedback. The results showed that, in contrast to a commonly raised concern, performance was not impaired following learning with selective and biased feedback. Furthermore, even in a simple decision task, the experience that people acquired was not a mere recording of the observed outcomes, but rather a reconstruction from general task knowledge.

National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-87226 (URN)10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01856.x (DOI)000245157900003 ()
Available from: 2008-09-30 Created: 2008-09-30 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
2. What is Coded into Memory in the Absence of Outcome Feedback?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What is Coded into Memory in the Absence of Outcome Feedback?
2010 (English)In: Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory and Cognition, ISSN 0278-7393, E-ISSN 1939-1285, Vol. 36, no 1, p. 1-16Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Although people often have to learn from environments with scarce and highly selective outcome feedback, the question of how non-feedback trials are represented in memory and affect later performance has received little attention in models of learning and decision making. In this article, the Generalized Context Model (R. M. Nosofsky, 1986) is used as a vehicle to test contrasting hypotheses about the coding of non-feedback trials. Data across 3 experiments with selective decision-contingent and selective outcome-contingent feedback provide support for the hypothesis of constructivist coding (E. Elwin, P. Juslin, H. Olsson, & T. Enkvist, 2007), according to which the outcomes on non-feedback trials are coded with the most likely outcome, as inferred by the individual. The relation to sampling-based approaches to judgment, and the adaptive significance of constructivist coding, are discussed.

Keywords
selective feedback, constructivist coding, generalized context model, base-rate bias
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-106876 (URN)
Available from: 2009-07-08 Created: 2009-07-08 Last updated: 2017-12-13
3. Living and Learning: The Interplay between Beliefs, Sampling Behaviour, and Experience
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Living and Learning: The Interplay between Beliefs, Sampling Behaviour, and Experience
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The effects on performance of selective feedback contingent on the decisions of the individual were investigated, and the prediction that negative effects of selective feedback are mediated by sampling behaviour that produces a sample of experience that apparently confirms an initial incorrect belief. Empirical results demonstrated that negative effects on performance of selective feedback were small. However, when participants were offered an incorrect prior assumption concerning the likely outcomes of their decisions, and the aim was to produce good outcomes, selective feedback lead to a restrictive sample of experiences that confirmed the incorrect assumption. Consequently, mistaken beliefs persisted, even after accurately perceived and interpreted extensive experience. In contrast, when the decision maker was encouraged to sample more liberally, objective experience allowed the revision of an incorrect assumption. Finally, the estimated base-rates of participants with selective feedback supported the predictions from constructivist coding.

Keywords
sampling, selective feedback, experiential learning, confirmation bias, constructivist coding
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-106878 (URN)
Available from: 2009-07-08 Created: 2009-07-08 Last updated: 2010-01-14Bibliographically approved

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