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Automaticity and cognitive control: Effects of cognitive load on cue-controlled reward choice

Automaticity and cognitive control: Effects of cognitive load on cue-controlled reward choice
Automaticity and cognitive control: Effects of cognitive load on cue-controlled reward choice
The extent to which human outcome–response (O-R) priming effects are automatic or under cognitive control is currently unclear. Two experiments tested the effect of cognitive load on O-R priming to shed further light on the debate. In Experiment 1, two instrumental responses earned beer and chocolate points in an instrumental training phase. Instrumental response choice was then tested in the presence of beer, chocolate, and neutral stimuli. On test, a Reversal instruction group was told that the stimuli signalled which response would not be rewarded. The transfer test was also conducted under either minimal (No Load) or considerable (Load) cognitive load. The Non-Reversal groups showed O-R priming effects, where the reward cues increased the instrumental responses that had previously produced those outcomes, relative to the neutral stimulus. This effect was observed even under cognitive load. The Reversal No Load group demonstrated a reversed effect, where response choice was biased towards the response that was most likely to be rewarded according to the instruction. Most importantly, response choice was at chance in the Reversal Load condition. In Experiment 2, cognitive load abolished the sensitivity to outcome devaluation that was otherwise seen when multiple outcomes and responses were cued on test. Collectively, the results demonstrate that complex O-R priming effects are sensitive to cognitive load, whereas the very simple, standard O-R priming effect is more robust.
Outcome-response priming, automaticity, cognitive control, outcome devaluation
1747-0218
1507-1521
Seabrooke, Tina
bf0d9ea5-8cf7-494b-9707-891762fce6c3
Wills, Andy J.
ac3dacc2-7918-47e9-9b4f-bbfde29a4ebf
Hogarth, Lee
c0343170-98f6-43fd-a08c-58b8956ca435
Mitchell, Chris J.
348942ac-ea98-494d-ba4c-21e85273575a
Seabrooke, Tina
bf0d9ea5-8cf7-494b-9707-891762fce6c3
Wills, Andy J.
ac3dacc2-7918-47e9-9b4f-bbfde29a4ebf
Hogarth, Lee
c0343170-98f6-43fd-a08c-58b8956ca435
Mitchell, Chris J.
348942ac-ea98-494d-ba4c-21e85273575a

Seabrooke, Tina, Wills, Andy J., Hogarth, Lee and Mitchell, Chris J. (2019) Automaticity and cognitive control: Effects of cognitive load on cue-controlled reward choice. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72 (6), 1507-1521. (doi:10.1177/1747021818797052).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The extent to which human outcome–response (O-R) priming effects are automatic or under cognitive control is currently unclear. Two experiments tested the effect of cognitive load on O-R priming to shed further light on the debate. In Experiment 1, two instrumental responses earned beer and chocolate points in an instrumental training phase. Instrumental response choice was then tested in the presence of beer, chocolate, and neutral stimuli. On test, a Reversal instruction group was told that the stimuli signalled which response would not be rewarded. The transfer test was also conducted under either minimal (No Load) or considerable (Load) cognitive load. The Non-Reversal groups showed O-R priming effects, where the reward cues increased the instrumental responses that had previously produced those outcomes, relative to the neutral stimulus. This effect was observed even under cognitive load. The Reversal No Load group demonstrated a reversed effect, where response choice was biased towards the response that was most likely to be rewarded according to the instruction. Most importantly, response choice was at chance in the Reversal Load condition. In Experiment 2, cognitive load abolished the sensitivity to outcome devaluation that was otherwise seen when multiple outcomes and responses were cued on test. Collectively, the results demonstrate that complex O-R priming effects are sensitive to cognitive load, whereas the very simple, standard O-R priming effect is more robust.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 5 August 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 10 September 2018
Published date: June 2019
Keywords: Outcome-response priming, automaticity, cognitive control, outcome devaluation

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 435924
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/435924
ISSN: 1747-0218
PURE UUID: ab1b612c-4bba-4a06-baa9-c75f6a9f9ee7
ORCID for Tina Seabrooke: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4119-8389

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 22 Nov 2019 17:30
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 03:20

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Contributors

Author: Tina Seabrooke ORCID iD
Author: Andy J. Wills
Author: Lee Hogarth
Author: Chris J. Mitchell

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