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Further evidence on the validity of web-based research on associative learning: Augmentation in a predictive learning task

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Abstract

Most demonstrations of the validity of Internet-based research methods are based on replications of well-known experimental phenomena on the Internet. However, in order to test whether the lack of control over the experimental conditions usually found in Internet studies has an effect on the quality of data, it would be more interesting to show that the Internet cannot only be used to replicate common and well-documented effects, but also less-known experimental findings or elusive phenomena that tend to occur only in very specific conditions. The present experiment explores one such effect, namely augmentation in associative learning, and shows that it can be readily found in the laboratory and on the Internet.

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... Also, the lack of researcher presence in internet-based research helps prevent researcher bias and ensures procedure replicability (e.g., Birnbaum, 2004). Research on methodology comparison has been conducted to evaluate whether data collected through internet delivery and face-to-face contact produce comparison results both in the field of selfreporting surveys and questionnaires (e.g., Carlbring et al., 2007;Whitaker, 2007), and with experimental approaches (e.g., Birnbaum, 2001;Reips, 2002;Vadillo and Matute, 2011). ...
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... Procedure and design were the same as those used in Experiment 1. However, as mentioned before, Experiment 2 was carried out on the Internet (see Germine et al., 2012;Ryan, Wilde, & Crist, 2013 for the validity of web-based experiments in this context, and Vadillo, B arcena, & Matute, 2006;Vadillo & Matute, 2011, for the validity of online experiments on associative learning very similar to the ones reported herein). We also included an additional question about previous participation, to ensure that participants of Experiment 1 did not take part in this study. ...
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... De plus, le fait que ces expériences n'aient pas été réalisées en laboratoire, mais aient été mises en ligne, peut aussi être critiqué. Cependant, des études montrent que les phénomènes observés en laboratoire dans le champ de l'apprentissage associatif sont répliqués lorsque les expériences sont réalisées en ligne (Vadillo, & Matute, 2011 ...
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... Perhaps most important, previous experiments have shown that very similar results are normally obtained in the laboratory and through the Internet (for a review, see Kraut et al., 2004). This convergence between online and offline results has also been confirmed for experiments in associative learning that use procedures very similar to the ones we are using here (e.g., Matute et al., 2007; Vadillo et al., 2006; Vadillo & Matute, 2011). In any case and as a general rule of prudence, two of the experiments in this series were conducted through the Internet but the other two were conducted in the laboratory.Table 2, the only difference between this experiment and Experiment 1 is that the order of the first two phases was reversed. ...
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It has been suggested that causal learning in humans is similar to Pavlovian conditioning in animals. According to this view, judgments of cause reflect the degree to which an association exists between the cause and the effect. Inferential accounts, by contrast, suggest that causal judgments are reasoning based rather than associative in nature. We used a direct measure of associative strength, identification of the outcome with which a cause was paired (cued recall), to see whether associative strength translated directly into causal ratings. Causal compounds AB+ and CD+ were intermixed withA+ and C- training. Cued-recall performance was better for cue B than for cue D; thus, associative strength was inherited by cue B from the strongly associated cue A (augmentation). However, the reverse was observed on the causal judgment measure: Cue B was judged to be less causal than D (cue competition). These results support an inferential over an associative account of causal judgments.
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Two experiments were conducted with the aim of designing a videogame for the study of human conditioned avoidance. Participants had to destroy enemy spaceships with the goal of increasing the score in a counter. Coloured signals might announce the launching of a bomb that could hit participant's spaceship producing a 30 points decrease in participant's score. Three groups of participants were trained in discriminating between a warning signal (W) and a safety signal (S) in Experiment 1. Instrumental group could avoid the loss of points by hiding the spaceship before the offset of W. Participants in the Yoked group received the same treatment received by their instrumental partners, regardless of their behaviour. In the Pavlovian group, W was always followed by the loss of points, regardless of participant's behaviour. Discrimination between W and S was better in the Instrumental groups than in the Yoked and Pavlovian control groups. Experiment 2 found extinction of avoidance when the warning signal was not followed by the bomb. Temporal discrimination was found within the participants that received the instrumental contingency in both experiments, with higher avoidance response towards the end of the warning signal. Temporal discrimination disappeared after extinction in Experiment 2.
Article
The issue of whether medical education research outcomes can be biased by students' refusal to allow their data to be used in outcomes research should be empirically addressed to assure the validity of research findings. Given that institutions are expected to document the outcomes of their educational programmes, evaluations of clinical performance subsequent to medical school are crucial, but are often incomplete when graduates decline to permit data collection. This study aimed to examine the demographic and performance differences between research volunteers and others. A total of 7415 doctors graduated from Jefferson Medical College between 1970 and 2004; 75% (n = 5575) agreed to participate in medical education research by granting written permission for the collection of data from their postgraduate training directors on their behalf (research volunteers); 20% (n = 1489) refused to grant such permission (non-volunteers), and 5% (n = 351) did not return the permission form (non-respondents). This prospective longitudinal study compared research volunteers, non-volunteers and non-respondents on gender, ethnicity, performance measures prior to, during and after medical school, scores on medical licensing examinations, and board certification status. Doctors who granted permission (volunteers) generally performed better during and after medical school. In addition, they scored higher on medical licensing examinations and had a higher certification rate. Women and members of ethnic minority groups were less likely to grant permission. The study raises questions about the validity of research findings as a result of volunteerism in medical education research. The implications for guidelines regarding the protection of human subjects in medical education research, and for educational outcomes, are discussed.
A dissociation between causal judgment and outcome recall & Review. v12
  • Mitchell
A free software package for a human online conditioned suppression preparation
  • M Franssen
  • J Clarisse
  • T Beckers
  • P R Van Vooren
  • F Baeyens
Franssen, M., Clarisse, J., Beckers, T., van Vooren, P. R., & Baeyens, F. (2010). A free software package for a human online conditioned suppression preparation. Behavior Research Methods, 42, 311-317.