Dissociating the effects of automatic activation and explicit expectancy on reaction times in a simple associative learning task
Keywords:learning, conditioning, expectancy, automatism, dissociations
Date of Issue:2006
Journal/Publication Title:Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, in press.
Abstract:After repeated associations between two events, E1 and E2, responses to E2 can be facilitated because participants consciously expect E2 to occur after E1, because E1 automatically activates the response to E2, or because of both. In this paper, we report on 4 experiments designed to pit the influence of these two factors against each other. We found that the fastest responses to a target in a reaction time paradigm occurred when automatic activation was highest and conscious expectancy lowest. These results, when considered together with previous findings indicating that, under most conditions, the relation between expectancy and reaction times is in the opposite direction, are indicative of a 'reversed association'â€”an interaction pattern that Dunn and Kirsner (1988) demonstrated to be the only one that unambiguously points to the involvement of independent processes.