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Contingency [Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior]

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Abstract

In the area of learning theory, the term contingency refers to the extent to which the presence of an event (the predictor event) is associated with changes in the probability of occurrence of another event (the outcome event).

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Causal judgment is assumed to play a central role in prediction, control, and explanation. Here, we consider the function or functions that map contingency information concerning the relationship between a single cue and a single outcome onto causal judgments. We evaluate normative accounts of causal induction and report the findings of an extensive meta-analysis in which we used a cross-validation model-fitting method and carried out a qualitative analysis of experimental trends in order to compare a number of alternative models. The best model to emerge from this competition is one in which judgments are based on the difference between the amount of confirming and disconfirming evidence. A rational justification for the use of this model is proposed.
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Investigated the possible role of the conditional probabilities of an outcome given a response P(O/R) and of an outcome given the absence of a response P(O/NoR) in mediating college students' judgments of response–outcome contingency. A total of 150 Ss in 3 experiments were asked to describe the effect that telegraph key tapping had on the brief illumination of a lamp. Ss' ratings along a prevent–cause scale closely approximated the scheduled contingencies between response (R = key tapping) and outcome (O = lamp illumination), as measured by the delta coefficient δP = P(O/R) – P(O/NoR) (Exps 1 and 3). Ss also sensitively rated the conditional probabilities of an outcome when they tapped the key and when they refrained from doing so (Exps 2 and 3). Nevertheless, the evidence failed to support the hypothesis that causal ratings were mediated by subjective judgments of P(O/R) and P(O/NoR) because the errors made in judging the conditional probabilities were not consistent with the errors made judging δP. The authors suggest that an associative explanation derived from a model devised by R. A. Rescorla and A. R. Wagner (1972) might account for these and other results. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Examines the varied measures of contingency that have appeared in the psychological judgment literature concerning binary variables. It is argued that accurate judgments about related variables should not be used to infer that the judgments are based on appropriate information. (9 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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2 EXPERIMENTS WITH MALE SPRAGUE-DAWLEY RATS INDICATE THAT CS-UCS CONTINGENCY IS AN IMPORTANT DETERMINANT OF FEAR CONDITIONING AND THAT PRESENTATION OF UCS IN THE ABSENCE OF CS INTERFERES WITH FEAR CONDITIONING. IN EXP. I, EQUAL PROBABILITY OF A SHOCK UCS IN THE PRESENCE AND ABSENCE OF A TONE CS PRODUCED NO CONDITIONED EMOTIONAL RESPONSE SUPPRESSION TO CS; THE SAME PROBABILITY OF UCS GIVEN ONLY DURING CS PRODUCED SUBSTANTIAL CONDITIONING. IN EXP. II, WHICH EXPLORED 4 DIFFERENT PROBABILITIES OF UCS IN THE PRESENCE AND ABSENCE OF CS, AMOUNT OF CONDITIONING WAS HIGHER THE GREATER THE PROBABILITY OF UCS DURING CS AND WAS LOWER THE GREATER THE PROBABILITY OF UCS IN THE ABSENCE OF CS; WHEN THE 2 PROBABILITIES WERE EQUAL, NO CONDITIONING RESULTED.
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Reports 2 experiments which indicate that negative contingencies between CSs and shock set up conditioned inhibitors. In Exp. I with 48 male Sprague-Dawley rats, this inhibition was measured by retardation in the subsequent acquisition of a conditioned emotional response (CER) to the CS. Stimuli with greater negative CS-UCS contingencies were more retarded in CER acquisition; various control procedures were employed. In Exp II with 32 Sprague-Dawley rats, inhibition was measured by a summation technique. CSs with a history of greater negative relations to shock were more disruptive of the CER normally elicited by a 2nd CS. Taken together, the experiments support the general hypothesis that CS-UCS contingency is an important factor in fear conditioning.