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Contingency Judgments

Manuel Migeul Ramos Alvarez
Jaen, Andalucia, Spain

I'm very grateful for this opportunity to introduce my work. I'm conducting research in causal/predictive processing, with a particular focus on contingency judgments. My work could be organized around three areas.

My first research area, tutored by Andres Catena at the University of Granada (Spain) deals with predictive processing in situations which present more than one potential predictor. The blocking paradigm we are using is considered within a diagnostic context, to simulate diagnostic processes, either medical or psychological. In fact, we have created a computer program in Visual Basic 5.0. which allows a very wide range of judgment experiments.

We also found that predictors are processed independently in some situations, such as the blocking paradigm. These results defy the competitive mechanism we see in the relevant literature. The use of competitive or independent processing seems to depend on the beliefs the person has about the situation.

An extensive series of experiments led us to propose an Information Integration Model based on Norman Anderson's theory. In addition, we have directed our attention toward the lens model, in an attempt to enrich such a proposal, both cognitively and methodologically.

According to the Brunswik lens model, the environmental structure and the organismic system are joined with a linking function that incorporates the subject's beliefs or assumptions about the causal texture of the environment (in the spirit of Tolman & Brunswik).

The second research area arises from a more elemental point of view. Ana Raquel Ortega and I are conducting research from a descriptive (more than normative) perspective about the processing strategy in judgments of contingency within binary tasks. We have suggested a formal model with three possible algorithms according to the way in which the information is integrated. These strategies include four basic parameters that reflect the subjective weight attached to the four types of information relevant in binary situations. We have also developed a computer program, which allows us to implement this theoretical proposal, and are checking its validity through a series of experiments on stereotypes.

In our formal model, the different kinds of predictions are deduced in terms of three types of strategies and the values of the weight parameters. After we carry out the corresponding estimations, the predictions are then contrasted. The lens model was also very useful in this line of research, particularly in its nonmetric variant (i.e., Castellan), as we are adapting our formal proposal to include the different indexes allowed by the lens model (such as consistency).

In addition, we are studying in depth the inferential apparatus that allows us to attach-in a univocal way-a strategy to each participant in the experimental situation.

Last but not least, both the Brunswik methodology of regression and the Generalized Linear Model constitute a very useful framework to conceptualize the general research process in psychology. I have found this very useful in teaching my experimental psychology students. In fact, I'm writing a textbook using this integration perspective.

In my view, the methodology should include the data coming from research in basic psychological processes, in order to understand the researcher's reasoning and decision making. In other words, my aim would be to progress from the methodological to the cognitive contents and vice versa, so that we can include ideas or data about heuristics and biases and judgment and decision making in causal processing, hypothesis testing, et cetera. From this descriptive framework, the Brunswikian ideas bring forward the possibility of organizing the above dynamic model from theory towards data.

Contact Manuel Migeul Ramos Alvarez

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