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Effortless Control Processing: A Heuristic Strategy for Reducing Cognitive Bias in Judgments of Control

Description: The present investigation tested the prediction that effortless control processing, the deliberate activation of innate automatic encoding mechanisms, will enable nondepressed persons to accurately judge degree of control. Subjective judgment of control in nondepressed students was examined by a modification of the method developed by Jenkins and Ward (1965). The modification was based on Hasher and Zacks' (1979) version of the method. Several measures were used to assess students' representations of control. Students were asked to judge the degree of control their responses had over outcomes rather than the degree of contingency between responses and outcomes. To facilitate comparison of prior studies on the judgment of contingency with the present study, Jenkins and Ward's (1965) index of the actual degree of control was used. Their index used the magnitude of the difference between the conditional probability of an outcome given the occurrence of one response versus the conditional probability of the outcome given the occurrence of another response as representing degree of control or contingency. In this experiment, students instructed in effortful control processing and effortless control processing were presented with a series of problems in which there was no contingency between their responses and outcomes. The problems differed in the degree of favorable outcome frequency. Students' abilities to detect noncontingency between responses and outcomes under different conditions of outcome frequency was examined.
Date: December 1984
Creator: Evans, Harry Monroe
Partner: UNT Libraries