Posts in Category: methodology

Paper: Visual working memory resources as item activation

To understand visual intelligence is to understand, in large part, who we are.
Donald D. Hoffmann (1998), p. XII

 

The body’s movements at this time scale provide an essential link between processes underlying elemental perceptual events
and those involved in symbol manipulation and the organization of complex behaviors.
Ballard et al. (1997), p. 723

 
 
 
 
 

Bella Z. Veksler, Rachel Boyd, Christopher W. Myers, Glenn Gunzelmann, Hansjörg Neth, Wayne D. Gray

Visual working memory resources are best characterized as dynamic, quantifiable mnemonic traces

An example stimulus used in the paradigm of repeated serial search.

An example stimulus used in the paradigm of repeated serial search.

Abstract:  Visual working memory (VWM) is a construct hypothesized to store a small amount of accurate perceptual information that can be brought to bear on a task.  Much research concerns the construct’s capacity and the precision of the information stored.  Two prominent theories of VWM representation have emerged: slot-based and continuous-resource mechanisms.  Prior modeling work suggests that a continuous resource that varies over trials with variable capacity and a potential to make localization errors best accounts for the empirical data.  Questions remain regarding the variability in VWM capacity and precision.  Using a novel eye-tracking paradigm, we demonstrate that VWM facilitates search and exhibits effects of fixation frequency and recency, particularly for prior targets.  Whereas slot-based memory models cannot account for the human data, a novel continuous-resource model does capture the behavioral and eye tracking data, and identifies the relevant resource as item activation.

Paper: Rational task analysis (RTA)

Just as a scissors cannot cut paper without two blades,
a theory of thinking and problem solving cannot predict behavior
unless it encompasses both an analysis of the structure of task environments
and an analysis of the limits of rational adaptation to task requirements.
(Newell & Simon, 1972, p. 55)


Hansjörg Neth, Chris R. Sims, Wayne D. Gray

Rational task analysis: A methodology to benchmark bounded rationality

Abstract:  How can we study bounded rationality?  We answer this question by proposing rational task analysis (RTA)—a systematic approach that prevents experimental researchers from drawing premature conclusions regarding the (ir-)rationality of agents.  RTA is a methodology and perspective that is anchored in the notion of bounded rationality and aids in the unbiased interpretation of results and the design of more conclusive experimental paradigms. 

Paper: Foraging for alternative options

Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble,
and if I stay it will be double…
The Clash


Hansjörg Neth, Neele Engelmann, Ralf Mayrhofer

Foraging for alternatives: Ecological rationality in keeping options viable

Abstract:  Do we invest irrational amounts of effort into keeping options viable, or do we manage available and threatened options in an adaptive fashion? 

Paper: Melioration as rational choice

Maximization (…) is not a general explanatory principle for behavior. (…)
Melioration (…) is the dynamic process controlling allocation of time across response alternatives.
Herrnstein & Vaughan (1980). Melioration and behavioral allocation, p. 143+172


Chris R. Sims, Hansjörg Neth, Robert A. JacobsWayne D. Gray

Melioration as rational choice: Sequential decision making in uncertain environments

Abstract:  Melioration — defined as choosing a lesser, local gain over a greater longer term gain — is a behavioral tendency that people and pigeons share.  As such, the empirical occurrence of meliorating behavior has frequently been interpreted as evidence that the mechanisms of human choice violate the norms of economic rationality.  In some environments, the relationship between actions and outcomes is known. In this case, the rationality of choice behavior can be evaluated in terms of how successfully it maximizes utility given knowledge of the environmental contingencies.  In most complex environments, however, the relationship between actions and future outcomes is uncertain and must be learned from experience.  When the difficulty of this learning challenge is taken into account, it is not evident that melioration represents suboptimal choice behavior.