The effectiveness of feedback in multiple-cue probability learning

Ben R. Newell, Nicola J. Weston, Richard J. Tunney, David R. Shanks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How effective are different types of feedback in helping us to learn multiple contingencies? This article attempts to resolve a paradox whereby, in comparison to simple outcome feedback, additional feedback either fails to enhance or is actually detrimental to performance in nonmetric multiple-cue probability learning (MCPL), while in contrast the majority of studies of metric MCPL reveal improvements at least with some forms of feedback. In three experiments we demonstrate that if feedback assists participants to infer cue polarity then it can in fact be effective in nonmetric MCPL. Participants appeared to use cue polarity information to adopt a linear judgement strategy, even though the environment was nonlinear. The results reconcile the paradoxical contrast between metric and nonmetric MCPL and support previous findings of people's tendency to assume linearity and additivity in probabilistic cue learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)890-908
Number of pages19
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2009


  • Categorisation
  • Feedback
  • Judgement
  • Multiple-cue probability learning


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