What can Associative Learning do for Driving?

AbstractTo improve road safety, it is important to understand the impact that the contingencies around traffic lights have upon drivers’ behavior. There are formal rules that govern behavior at UK traffic lights (see The Highway Code, 2015), but what does experience of the contingencies do to us? While a green light always cues a go response and a singleton red a stop, the behavior linked to amber is ambiguous; in the presence of red it cues readiness to start, while on its own it cues "preparation" to stop. Could it be that the contingencies between stimuli and responses lead to implicit learning of responses that differ from those suggested by the rules of the road? This study used an incidental go/no-go task in which colored shapes were stochastically predictive of whether a response was required. The stimuli encoded the contingencies between traffic lights and their appropriate responses, for example, stimulus G was a go cue, mimicking the response to a green light. Evidence was found to indicate that G was a go cue, while A (which had the same contingencies as an amber light) was a weak go cue, and that R (a stop cue) was surprisingly responded to as a neutral cue.

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