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Modelling focused learning in role assignment

journal contribution
posted on 01.03.2000 by Michael Matessa, John R. Anderson

ACT-R is a general theory of cognition (Anderson, 1993; Anderson & Lebiere, 1998) which is capable of learning the relative usefulness of alternative rules. In this paper, a model utilising this implicit procedural learning mechanism is described which explains results from a concept formation task created by McDonald and MacWhinney (1991), a role assignment task for artificial languages created by Blackwell (1995), and a new role assignment experiment. By focusing learning on one cue of role assignment at a time, the model predicts a blocking phenomenon where certain cues can dominate and partially block the learning of other cues. In all of the experiments, subjects trial-by-trial use of cues is better predicted by the ACT-R model than by a pure learning-on-error model that learns all cues simultaneously.