Michael Waldmann and Jessica Walker

Competence and performance in causal learning

Learning & Behavior

The dominant theoretical approach to causal learning postulates the acquisition of associative weights between cues and outcomes. This reduction of causal induction to associative learning implies that learners are insensitive to important characteristics of causality, such as the inherent directionality between causes and effects. An ongoing debate centers on the question of whether causal learning is sensitive to causal directionality (as is postulated by causal-model theory) or whether it neglects this important feature of the physical world (as implied by associationist theories). Three experiments using different cue competition paradigms are reported that demonstrate the competence of human learners to differentiate between predictive and diagnostic learning. However, the experiments also show that this competence displays itself best in learning situations with few processing demands and with convincingly conveyed causal structures. The study provides evidence for the necessity to distinguish between competence and performance in causal learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Accession Number: 2005-07313-008. PMID: 16075840 Other Journal Title: Animal Learning & Behavior. Partial author list: First Author & Affiliation: Waldmann, Michael R.; University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany. Other Publishers: Springer. Release Date: 20050711. Correction Date: 20110110. Publication Type: Journal (0100), Peer Reviewed Journal (0110). Format Covered: Print. Document Type: Journal Article. Language: English. Conference Information: Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, 2000, New Orleans, LA, US. Conference Note: Portions of this research were presented at the aforementioned conference. Major Descriptor: Associative Processes; Causal Analysis; Cues; Judgment; Learning. Minor Descriptor: Competence. Classification: Learning & Memory (2343). Population: Human (10). Location: Germany. Age Group: Adulthood (18 yrs & older) (300). Methodology: Empirical Study; Quantitative Study. References Available: Y. Page Count: 19. Issue Publication Date: May, 2005.