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Percept Psychophys. 2007 Aug;69(6):865-78.

The effects of positive versus negative feedback on information-integration category learning.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA.


A number of studies have shown that in category learning, providing feedback about errors allows faster learning than providing feedback about correct responses. However, these previous studies used explicit, rule-based tasks in which the category structures could be separated by a simple rule that was easily verbalized. Here, the results of the first experiment known to compare the efficacy of positive versus negative feedback during information-integration category learning are reported. Information-integration tasks require participants to integrate perceptual information from incommensurable dimensions, and evidence suggests that optimal responding recruits procedural learning. The results show that although nearly all of the full-feedback control participants demonstrated information-integration learning, participants receiving either positive-only or negative-only feedback generally used explicit, rule-based strategies. It thus appears that, unlike rule-based learning, consistent information-integration learning requires full feedback. The theoretical implications of these findings for current models of information-integration learning are discussed.

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