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Title: Motivational Learning: The Influence of Prediction Errors in Effort Costs & Rewards on Estimates of Future Performance
Authors: Chen, Carrie
Advisors: Cohen, Jonathan
Department: Psychology
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: It has been established in the decision-making literature that both expected reward and cognitive effort costs are factored in when evaluating the net value of a task. However, it remains unclear which of the two is weighted more heavily in motivational learning, specifically in creating estimates of future performance on a given task. The current study seeks to investigate this research question in the context of prediction errors, in both reward and effort costs. 71 Princeton University undergraduates completed an experiment involving a cognitive task, in which prediction errors occurred in either the feedback or in the cognitive effort of completing the task, and were then asked to form predictions of their performance on an upcoming block. As hypothesized, participants’ estimates of their future performance were significantly tied to previous prediction errors in reward, but were not tied to previous prediction errors in cost. These results demonstrate that reward, compared to the cost of cognitive effort, is more heavily factored into learning. These findings may serve to complicate some of the existing theories in the current decision-making literature, and raises important questions to be addressed in future research.
Extent: 50 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2017

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