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Increasing Capacity: Practice Effects in Absolute Identification


Dodds, P and Donkin, C and Brown, SD and Heathcote, A, Increasing Capacity: Practice Effects in Absolute Identification, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37, (2) pp. 477-492. ISSN 0278-7393 (2011) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 American Psychological Association

DOI: doi:10.1037/a0022215


In most of the long history of the study of absolute identification—since Miller’s (1956) seminal article—a severe limit on performance has been observed, and this limit has resisted improvement even by extensive practice. In a startling result, Rouder, Morey, Cowan, and Pfaltz (2004) found substantially improved performance with practice in the absolute identification of line lengths, albeit for only 3 participants and in a somewhat atypical paradigm. We investigated the limits of this effect and found that it also occurs in more typical paradigms, is not limited to a few virtuoso participants or due to relative judgment strategies, and generalizes to some (e.g., line inclination and tone frequency) but not other (e.g., tone loudness) dimensions. We also observed, apart from differences between dimensions, 2 unusual aspects of improvement with practice: (a) a positive correlation between initial performance and the effect of practice and (b) a large reduction in a characteristic trial-to-trial decision bias with practice.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Cognitive and computational psychology
Research Field:Decision making
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Heathcote, A (Professor Andrew Heathcote)
ID Code:98905
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:7
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2015-03-06
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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