Nevin Manimala Statistics

Time-evolving psychological processes over repeated decisions

Psychol Rev. 2022 Apr;129(3):438-456. doi: 10.1037/rev0000351.


Many psychological experiments have subjects repeat a task to gain the statistical precision required to test quantitative theories of psychological performance. In such experiments, time-on-task can have sizable effects on performance, changing the psychological processes under investigation. Most research has either ignored these changes, treating the underlying process as static, or sacrificed some psychological content of the models for statistical simplicity. We use particle Markov chain Monte-Carlo methods to study psychologically plausible time-varying changes in model parameters. Using data from three highly cited experiments, we find strong evidence in favor of a hidden Markov switching process as an explanation of time-varying effects. This embodies the psychological assumption of “regime switching,” with subjects alternating between different cognitive states representing different modes of decision-making. The switching model explains key long- and short-term dynamic effects in the data. The central idea of our approach can be applied quite generally to quantitative psychological theories, beyond the models and datasets that we investigate. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

PMID:35727307 | DOI:10.1037/rev0000351

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