Probabilistic cue combination: less is more

Authors


Address for correspondence: Daniel Yurovsky, Stanford University, Department of Psychology, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA, 94305, USA; e-mail: yurovsky@stanford.edu

Abstract

Learning about the structure of the world requires learning probabilistic relationships: rules in which cues do not predict outcomes with certainty. However, in some cases, the ability to track probabilistic relationships is a handicap, leading adults to perform non-normatively in prediction tasks. For example, in the dilution effect, predictions made from the combination of two cues of different strengths are less accurate than those made from the stronger cue alone. Here we show that dilution is an adult problem; 11-month-old infants combine strong and weak predictors normatively. These results extend and add support for the less is more hypothesis: limited cognitive resources can lead children to represent probabilistic information differently from adults, and this difference in representation can have important downstream consequences for prediction.

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