The Role of Feedback and Post-Error Adaptations in Reasoning

AbstractMonitoring our errors enables humans to adapt behavior when actions fail to result in desired outcomes. Post-error adaptations have been studied extensively using simple laboratory tasks where people typically slow down after errors. Few studies, however, examined such behavioral adaptations in more complex tasks such as reasoning. In two experiments we investigated how participants adapt their behavior based on evaluative feedback in syllogistic reasoning tasks. Experiment 1 demonstrates that participants’ likelihood to give a logically correct response increased throughout the experiment when given feedback. This feedback effect was limited to syllogisms that have no logical conclusion and thus mostly driven by an increase in participants’ “No valid conclusion” responses. Experiment 2 investigates post-error adaptations on a trial-level and shows that participants with a high accuracy slowed down after errors while participants with a low accuracy slowed down after correct responses. Implications on error-monitoring and reasoning research are discussed.

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