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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.


Mean criterion shifts in the feedback and no feedback conditions of the Percent, Patrol, and Payoff tasks in Experiment 2. Error bars represent the SEM.
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Figure 4: Mean criterion shifts in the feedback and no feedback conditions of the Percent, Patrol, and Payoff tasks in Experiment 2. Error bars represent the SEM.

Mentions: The means of interest for each group are displayed in Table 2. Differences in c-values between liberal and conservative test blocks were again highly significant in each task across all groups (all ts > 4, all ps < 0.001). One-way ANOVAs revealed no significant differences in criterion values as a function of task pairing (e.g., values of c were the same in the Percent task across the Percent vs. Patrol and Percent vs. Payoff groups), all ps > 0.09. Therefore, to facilitate visual comparisons across tasks, we pooled the results for each task across groups, creating an overall mean for each task. Mean criterion shifts are displayed in Figure 4, and mean critical miss and false alarm rates are displayed in Figure 5. As is clear from these figures, criterion shifts were insufficient to eliminate critical errors, regardless of the task. Trial-by-trial feedback appeared to reduce critical errors, but not below rates of approximately 20% across tasks.


Dubious decision evidence and criterion flexibility in recognition memory.

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

Mean criterion shifts in the feedback and no feedback conditions of the Percent, Patrol, and Payoff tasks in Experiment 2. Error bars represent the SEM.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 4: Mean criterion shifts in the feedback and no feedback conditions of the Percent, Patrol, and Payoff tasks in Experiment 2. Error bars represent the SEM.
Mentions: The means of interest for each group are displayed in Table 2. Differences in c-values between liberal and conservative test blocks were again highly significant in each task across all groups (all ts > 4, all ps < 0.001). One-way ANOVAs revealed no significant differences in criterion values as a function of task pairing (e.g., values of c were the same in the Percent task across the Percent vs. Patrol and Percent vs. Payoff groups), all ps > 0.09. Therefore, to facilitate visual comparisons across tasks, we pooled the results for each task across groups, creating an overall mean for each task. Mean criterion shifts are displayed in Figure 4, and mean critical miss and false alarm rates are displayed in Figure 5. As is clear from these figures, criterion shifts were insufficient to eliminate critical errors, regardless of the task. Trial-by-trial feedback appeared to reduce critical errors, but not below rates of approximately 20% across tasks.

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.