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Dubious decision evidence and criterion flexibility in recognition memory.

Kantner J, Vettel JM, Miller MB - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: Critical errors were frequent, similar across sources of motivation, and only moderately reduced by feedback.In Experiment 3, critical errors were only modestly reduced in a version of the security patrol with no study phase.These findings indicate that participants use even transparently non-probative information as an alternative to heavy reliance on a decision rule, a strategy that precludes optimal criterion placement.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen, MD USA ; University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA USA.

ABSTRACT
When old-new recognition judgments must be based on ambiguous memory evidence, a proper criterion for responding "old" can substantially improve accuracy, but participants are typically suboptimal in their placement of decision criteria. Various accounts of suboptimal criterion placement have been proposed. The most parsimonious, however, is that subjects simply over-rely on memory evidence - however faulty - as a basis for decisions. We tested this account with a novel recognition paradigm in which old-new discrimination was minimal and critical errors were avoided by adopting highly liberal or conservative biases. In Experiment 1, criterion shifts were necessary to adapt to changing target probabilities or, in a "security patrol" scenario, to avoid either letting dangerous people go free (misses) or harming innocent people (false alarms). Experiment 2 added a condition in which financial incentives drove criterion shifts. Critical errors were frequent, similar across sources of motivation, and only moderately reduced by feedback. In Experiment 3, critical errors were only modestly reduced in a version of the security patrol with no study phase. These findings indicate that participants use even transparently non-probative information as an alternative to heavy reliance on a decision rule, a strategy that precludes optimal criterion placement.

No MeSH data available.


Critical errors in liberal test blocks (misses, top) and conservative test blocks (false alarms, bottom) across recognition tasks in Experiment 1. Error bars represent the SEM.
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Figure 3: Critical errors in liberal test blocks (misses, top) and conservative test blocks (false alarms, bottom) across recognition tasks in Experiment 1. Error bars represent the SEM.

Mentions: Criterion shifts, while substantial, were not sufficient to minimize critical errors in the Patrol task (defined as misses in the liberal condition and false alarms in the conservative condition; see Figure 3). Without feedback, the critical false alarm and miss rates were 0.39 and 0.31, respectively, despite the strong instructional motivation to consider such errors unacceptable. These error rates were statistically equivalent to those in the Percent condition (both ps > 0.18). Feedback moderately reduced critical errors in both tasks, with one exception: misses in the liberal condition were approximately 0.10 higher with feedback than without. Thus, liberal misses in the feedback condition were much more frequent in the Patrol than in the Percent task, t(56) = 6.681, p < 0.001. Conservative false alarms in the feedback condition were roughly equivalent across the two tasks, t(56) = 1.606, p = 0.11.


Dubious decision evidence and criterion flexibility in recognition memory.

Kantner J, Vettel JM, Miller MB - Front Psychol (2015)

Critical errors in liberal test blocks (misses, top) and conservative test blocks (false alarms, bottom) across recognition tasks in Experiment 1. Error bars represent the SEM.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4561817&req=5

Figure 3: Critical errors in liberal test blocks (misses, top) and conservative test blocks (false alarms, bottom) across recognition tasks in Experiment 1. Error bars represent the SEM.
Mentions: Criterion shifts, while substantial, were not sufficient to minimize critical errors in the Patrol task (defined as misses in the liberal condition and false alarms in the conservative condition; see Figure 3). Without feedback, the critical false alarm and miss rates were 0.39 and 0.31, respectively, despite the strong instructional motivation to consider such errors unacceptable. These error rates were statistically equivalent to those in the Percent condition (both ps > 0.18). Feedback moderately reduced critical errors in both tasks, with one exception: misses in the liberal condition were approximately 0.10 higher with feedback than without. Thus, liberal misses in the feedback condition were much more frequent in the Patrol than in the Percent task, t(56) = 6.681, p < 0.001. Conservative false alarms in the feedback condition were roughly equivalent across the two tasks, t(56) = 1.606, p = 0.11.

Bottom Line: Critical errors were frequent, similar across sources of motivation, and only moderately reduced by feedback.In Experiment 3, critical errors were only modestly reduced in a version of the security patrol with no study phase.These findings indicate that participants use even transparently non-probative information as an alternative to heavy reliance on a decision rule, a strategy that precludes optimal criterion placement.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen, MD USA ; University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA USA.

ABSTRACT
When old-new recognition judgments must be based on ambiguous memory evidence, a proper criterion for responding "old" can substantially improve accuracy, but participants are typically suboptimal in their placement of decision criteria. Various accounts of suboptimal criterion placement have been proposed. The most parsimonious, however, is that subjects simply over-rely on memory evidence - however faulty - as a basis for decisions. We tested this account with a novel recognition paradigm in which old-new discrimination was minimal and critical errors were avoided by adopting highly liberal or conservative biases. In Experiment 1, criterion shifts were necessary to adapt to changing target probabilities or, in a "security patrol" scenario, to avoid either letting dangerous people go free (misses) or harming innocent people (false alarms). Experiment 2 added a condition in which financial incentives drove criterion shifts. Critical errors were frequent, similar across sources of motivation, and only moderately reduced by feedback. In Experiment 3, critical errors were only modestly reduced in a version of the security patrol with no study phase. These findings indicate that participants use even transparently non-probative information as an alternative to heavy reliance on a decision rule, a strategy that precludes optimal criterion placement.

No MeSH data available.