Blocking in children's causal learning depends on working memory and reasoning abilities.

Teresa McCormack*, Victoria Simms, Jemma McGourty, Tom Beckers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A sample of 99 children completed a causal learning task that was an analogue of the food allergy paradigm used with adults. The cue competition effects of blocking and unovershadowing were assessed under forward and backward presentation conditions. Children also answered questions probing their ability to make the inference posited to be necessary for blocking by a reasoning account of cue competition. For the first time, children's working memory and general verbal ability were also measured alongside their causal learning. The magnitude of blocking and unovershadowing effects increased with age. However, analyses showed that the best predictor of both blocking and unovershadowing effects was children's performance on the reasoning questions. The magnitude of the blocking effect was also predicted by children's working memory abilities. These findings provide new evidence that cue competition effects such as blocking are underpinned by effortful reasoning processes. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-569
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume115
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

Keywords

  • Causal learning
  • Working memory
  • Reasoning
  • Cognitive development
  • Cue competition
  • Blocking
  • CUE COMPETITION
  • RETROSPECTIVE REVALUATION
  • ASSOCIATION
  • INFERENCES
  • ADDITIVITY
  • ACCOUNT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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