Do children and adults learn forward and inverse conditional probabilities together?


Learning p(A|B) often provides information about p(B|A). Do learners attend to this information? In Experiment 1, preschool-aged children learned to predict the sound of an alien from its color. The predictability of color from sound did not have a large effect on learning rate. During testing children seemed to use the learned probabilities, p(sound|color) to make judgments of the inverses, p(color|sound) rather than the actual encountered frequency distribution. In Experiment 2 adults showed a similar pattern. Adults used the probabilities they were trained on, either p(sound|color) or p(color|sound), to make judgments of the inverses. These results support previous demonstration of an “inverse fallacy” and suggest that both young children and adults show very task-specific learning.

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