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Psychol Bull. 1993 Nov;114(3):435-48.

Human contingency judgments: rule based or associative?

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  • Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


The study of the mechanism that detects the contingency between events, in both humans and nonhuman animals, is a matter of considerable research activity. Two broad categories of explanations of the acquisition of contingency information have received extensive evaluation: rule-based models and associative models. This article assess the two categories of models for human contingency judgments. The data reveal systematic departures in contingency judgments from the predictions of rule-based models. Recent studies indicate that a contiguity model of Pavlovian conditioning is a useful heuristic for conceptualizing human contingency judgments.

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