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On the Category Adjustment Model: Another look at Huttenlocher, Hedges, and Vevea (2000)

Duffy, Sean and Smith, John (2018): On the Category Adjustment Model: Another look at Huttenlocher, Hedges, and Vevea (2000).

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Huttenlocher, Hedges, and Vevea (2000) (Why do categories affect stimulus judgment? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 129, 220-241) introduce the category adjustment model (CAM). Given that participants imperfectly remember stimuli (which we refer to as “targets”), CAM holds that participants maximize accuracy by using information about the distribution of the targets to improve their judgments. CAM predicts that judgments will be a weighted average of the imperfect memory of the target and the mean of the distribution of targets. Huttenlocher, Hedges, and Vevea (2000) report on three experiments and conclude that CAM is “verified.” We attempt to replicate Experiment 3 from Huttenlocher et al. (2000). We analyze judgment-level data rather than averaged data. We find evidence of a bias toward a set of recent targets rather than a bias toward the running mean. We also do not find evidence of the joint hypothesis that participants learned the distribution of targets and employed this information in their judgments. The judgments in our dataset are not consistent with CAM. We discuss how the apparent defects in HHV – including dividing by zero – went unnoticed and how such mistakes can be avoided in future research. Finally, we hope that the techniques that we employ will be used to test other datasets that are currently regarded as consistent with CAM or any Bayesian model of judgment.

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