MORE ON THE PSYCHOPHYSICS OF CONTINGENCY ASSESSMENT

  • Lorraine G. Allan
  • Samuel D. Hannah
  • Mathew J.C. Crump
  • Shepard Siegel

Abstract

The study of contingency assessment involves examination of the relationship between physical events (the statistical contingency between cue and outcome) and the observer's internal experience of these events. Psychophysics is the discipline relating physical events and internal experiences, so it is surprising that few psychophysicists have been concerned with contingency assessment. At ISP 2006, I described a new methodology – the streamed- trials procedure – to study contingency assessment within a psychophysical framework. More recently we have modified the procedure so that (1) we can use cues and outcomes traditionally used by contingency researchers (e.g., ingestion of certain foods and the occurrence of an allergic reaction), (2) we can assess the observer’s assessment of control over the outcome (as well as the observer’s assessment of the cue-outcome contingency), and (3) we can study cue interaction effects (e.g., blocking). In addition to describing these modifications, we discuss the value of a psychophysical approach in evaluating theoretical accounts of contingency assessment.

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