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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2007 Nov;33(6):999-1019.

Limitations of exemplar models of multi-attribute probabilistic inference.

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Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.


Observers were presented with pairs of objects varying along binary-valued attributes and learned to predict which member of each pair had a greater value on a continuously varying criterion variable. The predictions from exemplar models of categorization were contrasted with classic alternative models, including generalized versions of a "take-the-best" model and a weighted-additive model, by testing structures in which interactions between attributes predicted the magnitude of the criterion variable. Under typical training conditions, observers showed little sensitivity to the attribute interactions, thereby challenging the predictions from the exemplar models. In a condition involving highly extended training, observers eventually learned the relations between the attribute interactions and the criterion variable. However, an analysis of the observers' response times for making their paired-comparison decisions also challenged the exemplar model predictions. Instead, it appeared that most observers recoded the interacting attributes into emergent configural cues. They then applied a set of hierarchically organized rules based on the priority of the cues to make their decisions.

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