PSYCHOPHYSICS OF CAUSALITY: DETECTING CONTINGENCIES IS LIKE DETECTING SIGNALS
The contingency assessment situation and the signal detection situation are similar in that the information on which the decision is based is uncertain. Nevertheless the two research endeavours have progressed independently, each with its own traditions and each motivated by different theoretical perspectives. Recently, some researchers have integrated these two lines of research and have demonstrated the value of applying a signal detection analysis to contingency assessment. In the present paper, we describe a new method, the streamed-trial procedure, that is better suited to the study of contingency detection and discrimination than is the traditional contingency judgment task, and we present data from experiments using this new procedure. We also discuss future research with the streamed-trial procedure that could provide a better understanding of intriguing findings in the contingency judgment literature such as â€œdepressive realismâ€.