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

McCormack, Teresa, Simms, Victoria, McGourty, Jemma and Beckers, Tom (2013) Blocking in children’s causal learning depends on working memory and reasoning abilities. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Epub a . [Journal article]

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2012.11.016


A sample of 99 children completed a causal learning task that wasan analogue of the food allergy paradigm used with adults. The cuecompetition effects of blocking and unovershadowing wereassessed under forward and backward presentation conditions.Children also answered questions probing their ability to makethe inference posited to be necessary for blocking by a reasoningaccount of cue competition. For the first time, children’s workingmemory and general verbal ability were also measured alongsidetheir causal learning. The magnitude of blocking and unovershadowingeffects increased with age. However, analyses showed thatthe best predictor of both blocking and unovershadowing effectswas children’s performance on the reasoning questions. The magnitudeof the blocking effect was also predicted by children’s workingmemory abilities. These findings provide new evidence that cuecompetition effects such as blocking are underpinned by effortfulreasoning processes.

Item Type:Journal article
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Psychology
Research Institutes and Groups:Psychology Research Institute > Peace, Conflict and Equality
Psychology Research Institute
ID Code:26125
Deposited By: Dr Victoria Simms
Deposited On:27 May 2013 10:39
Last Modified:07 Apr 2014 08:31

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