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Illusory Correlation and Valenced Outcomes

Derringer, Cory (2019) Illusory Correlation and Valenced Outcomes. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Accurately detecting relationships between variables in the environment is an integral part of our cognition. The tendency for people to infer these relationships where there are none has been documented in several different fields of research, including social psychology, fear learning, and placebo effects. A consistent finding in these areas is that people infer these illusory correlations more readily when they involve negative (aversive) outcomes; however, previous research has not tested this idea directly. Four experiments yielded several empirical findings: Valence effects were reliable and robust in a causal learning task with and without monetary outcomes, they were driven by relative rather than absolute gains and losses, and they were not moderated by the magnitude of monetary gains/losses. Several models of contingency learning are discussed and modified in an attempt to explain the findings, although none of the modifications could reasonably explain valence effects.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Derringer, Corycjd78@pitt.educjd780000-0002-1614-0708
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairRottman,
Committee MemberNokes-Malach,
Committee MemberFiez,
Committee MemberDanks,
Date: 25 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 April 2019
Approval Date: 25 September 2019
Submission Date: 7 August 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 93
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: causal learning, illusory correlation, negativity bias
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2019 19:57
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 19:57


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