Stimulus Response Mapping Feedback

Reinforcement is one of the principal modes of operant learning and is universally observed. Learning efficacy depends on reinforcing informants giving individuals honest feedback. However, not every informant is credible. The question is: are people sensitive to the credibility of the informants giving them feedback? If so, how does the credibility of the informant influence learning from and preference toward it? We conducted a three-stage study, comprising a stimulus-response-feedback (SRFB) mapping stage sandwiched between pre- and post-SRFB shape preference task stages. Generally, people can pick up on the credibility of informants quickly and show greater trust in honest informants. They also report liking honest informants more. Negative betrayal by an honest informant decimates any previous trust built-up before the point of duplicity. In sum, people learn from and like honest informants more, but are quick to retract their trust should the credibility of an informant become questionable. Currently, we are studying positive betrayal (a dishonest informant suddenly becoming honest) and sweet-talking (an always validating informant who confirms all of an individual’s choices but is not necessarily honest).

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