Decide Lab
Cognitive Science and Decision-Making Research with Professor Mario Fifić

All pdf's are free to download, requires a pdf program to read.

Simple Factorial Tweezers for detecting delicate serial and parallel processes

Fific, M. (2016) Simple Factorial Tweezers for detecting delicate serial and parallel processes. In “Mathematical Models of Perception and Cognition: Essays in Honor of James T. Townsend” (J. W. Houpt & L. M. Blaha, Eds), p. 77-152. New York: Psychology Press.

Over the last fifty years, work regarding the theoretical foundations governing the organization of mental processes has centered on the formal properties of various hypothesized mental networks. Such networks are defined in terms of their fundamental properties: processing order, stopping rule, and process dependency. Pivoting on the work of James Townsend and other essential contributors such as Richard Schweickert and Ehtibar Dzhafarov, these efforts resulted in the creation of the Systems Factorial Technology (SFT) - a suite of methodological tools for directly investigating the fundamental properties of cognitive operations. The SFT approach rests on rigorously tested mathematical tools for discriminating between serial and parallel processing, exhaustive and self-terminating stopping rules, and stochastic independence and dependence, as well as for discerning the capacity of an investigated system, all in a non-parametric (distribution-free) manner. The present study is focused on further refining recent advances in the SFT methodology and on the development of new tools for use with mental networks consisting of more than two processes. The present study also seeks to integrate these advances with the factorial tools developed to explore nonhomogeneous mental networks, which may consist of both serial and parallel processes (so called serial/parallel networks).

Full Text Online

Understanding the influence of distractors on workload capacity

Little, D. R., Eidels, A., Fific, M., & Wang, T. (2015). Understanding the influence of distractors on workload capacity. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 68-69, 25-36. doi:10.1016/j.jmp.2015.08.005

In this paper, we analyze the workload capacity of information processing of multidimensional perceptual stimuli. Capacity, which describes how the processing rate of the system changes as the number of stimulus dimensions or attributes is increased, is an important property of information processing systems. Inferences based on one measure of capacity, the capacity coefficient (Townsend and Nozawa, 1995), are typically computed by comparing the processing of single targets, which provide a measure of the baseline processing time of the system, to the processing of a double target. The single targets are typically assumed to be presented alone without any irrelevant distracting information. In this paper, we derive new capacity predictions for situations when distractor information is present. This extension reveals that, with distractors, the value of the capacity coefficient no longer provides unique diagnostic information about the underlying processing system. We further show how to rectify this situation by contrasting distractors of different discriminability.

Full Text Online

Double jeopardy in inferring cognitive processes

Fific M (2014) Double jeopardy in inferring cognitive processes. Front. Psychol. 5:1130. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01130

Inferences we make about underlying cognitive processes can be jeopardized in two ways due to problematic forms of aggregation. First, averaging across individuals is typically considered a very useful tool for removing random variability. The threat is that averaging across subjects leads to averaging across different cognitive strategies, thus harming our inferences. The second threat comes from the construction of inadequate research designs possessing a low diagnostic accuracy of cognitive processes. For that reason we introduced the systems factorial technology (SFT), which has primarily been designed to make inferences about underlying processing order (serial, parallel, coactive), stopping rule (terminating, exhaustive), and process dependency. SFT proposes that the minimal research design complexity to learn about n number of cognitive processes should be equal to 2n. In addition, SFT proposes that (a) each cognitive process should be controlled by a separate experimental factor, and (b) The saliency levels of all factors should be combined in a full factorial design. In the current study, the author cross combined the levels of jeopardies in a 2 × 2 analysis, leading to four different analysis conditions. The results indicate a decline in the diagnostic accuracy of inferences made about cognitive processes due to the presence of each jeopardy in isolation and when combined. The results warrant the development of more individual subject analyses and the utilization of full-factorial (SFT) experimental designs.

Full Text Online

Are Two Interviewers Better Than One?

Fific, M. & Gigerenzer G. (2014). Are Two Interviewers Better Than One? Special issue of Journal of Business Research.

How many interviewers per job applicant are necessary for a company to achieve the highest hit rate? Are two better than one? Condorcet's Jury Theorem and the “wisdom of the crowd” suggest that more is better. Under quite general conditions this study shows, surprisingly, that two interviewers are on average not superior to the best interviewer. Adding further interviewers will also not increase the expected collective hit rate when interviewers are homogeneous (i.e., their hits are nested), only doing so when interviewers are heterogeneous (i.e., their hits are not nested). The current study shows how these results depend on the number of interviewers, their expertise, and the chance of free riding, and specify the conditions when “less is more”. This analysis suggests that the best policy is to invest resources into improving the quality of the best interviewer rather than distribute these to improve the quality of many interviewers.

Full Text Online

Survivor Interaction Contrast Wiggle Predictions of Parallel and Serial Models for an Arbitrary Number of Processes

Yung, Fific, Townsend (2014): Survivor Interaction Contrast Wiggle Predictions of Parallel and Serial Models for an Arbitrary Number of Processes, William Estes Special issue of Journal of Mathematical Psychology.

The Survivor Interaction Contrast (SIC) is a distribution-free measure for assessing the fundamental properties of human information processing such as architecture (i.e., serial or parallel) and stopping rule (i.e., minimum time or maximum time). Despite its demonstrated utility, there are some vital gaps in our knowledge: first, the shape of the serial maximum time SIC is theoretically unclear, although the one 0-crossing negative-to-positive signature has been found repeatedly in the simulations. Second, the theories of SIC have been restricted to two-process cases, which restrict the applications to a limited class of models and data sets. In this paper, we first prove that in the two-process case, a mild condition known as strictly log-concavity is sufficient as a guarantor of a single 0-crossing of the serial maximum time SIC. We then extend the definition of SIC to an arbitrary number of processes, and develop implicated methodology of SIC in its generalized form, again in a distribution-free manner, for both parallel and serial models in conjunction with both the minimum time and maximum time stopping rules. We conclude the paper by demonstrating application of the theorems to data from a short-term memory search task.

Full Text Online

Stopping Rule Selection (SRS) Theory Applied to Deferred Decision Making

Fific M., & Buckmann M. (2013). Stopping Rule Selection (SRS) Theory Applied to Deferred Decision Making. In M. Knauff, M., Pauen, N., Sebanz, & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.) Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2273- 2278). Austin TX: Cognitive Science Society.

The critical step facing every decision maker is when to stop collecting evidence and proceed with the decision act. This is known as the stopping rule. Over the years, several unconnected explanations have been proposed that suggest nonoptimal approaches can account for some of the observable violations of the optimal stopping rule. The current research proposes a unifying explanation for these violations based on a new stopping rule selection (SRS) theory. The main innovation here is the assumption that a decision maker draws from a large set of different kinds of stopping rules and is not limited to using a single one. The SRS theory hypothesizes that there is a storage area for stopping rules—the so-called decision operative space (DOS)— and a retrieval mechanism that is used to select stopping rules from the DOS. The SRS theory has shown good fit to challenging data published in the relevant literature.

Full Text Online

Short-term memory scanning viewed as exemplar-based categorization

Nosofsky, R.M., Little, D.R., Donkin, C., & Fific, M. (2011). Short-term memory scanning viewed as exemplar-based categorization. Psychological Review.

Exemplar-similarity models such as the exemplar-based random walk (EBRW) model (Nosofsky & Palmeri, 1997b) were designed to provide a formal account of multidimensional classification choice probabilities and response times (RTs). At the same time, a recurring theme has been to use exemplar models to account for old–new item recognition and to explain relations between classification and recognition. However, a major gap in research is that the models have not been tested on their ability to provide a theoretical account of RTs and other aspects of performance in the classic Sternberg (1966) short-term memory-scanning paradigm, perhaps the most venerable of all recognition-RT tasks. The present research fills that gap by demonstrating that the EBRW model accounts in natural fashion for a wide variety of phenomena involving diverse forms of short-term memory scanning. The upshot is that similar cognitive operating principles may underlie the domains of multidimensional classification and short-term old–new recognition.

Full Text Online

Information-processing alternatives to holistic perception: Identifying the mechanisms of secondary-level holism within a categorization paradigm

Fific, M., & Townsend, J. T. (2010). Information-processing alternatives to holistic perception: Identifying the mechanisms of secondary-level holism within a categorization paradigm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36, 1290-1313.

Failure to selectively attend to a facial feature, in the part-to-whole paradigm, has been taken as evidence of holistic perception in a large body of face perception literature. In this article, we demonstrate that although failure of selective attention is a necessary property of holistic perception, its presence alone is not sufficient to conclude holistic processing has occurred. One must also consider the cognitive properties that are a natural part of information-processing systems, namely, mental architecture (serial, parallel), a stopping rule (self-terminating, exhaustive), and process dependency. We demonstrate that an analytic model (nonholistic) based on a parallel mental architecture and a self-terminating stopping rule can predict failure of selective attention. The new insights in our approach are based on the systems factorial technology, which provides a rigorous means of identifying the holistic–analytic distinction. Our main goal in the study was to compare potential changes in architecture when 2 second-order relational facial features are manipulated across different face contexts. Supported by simulation data, we suggest that the critical concept for modeling holistic perception is the interactive dependency between features. We argue that without conducting tests for architecture, stopping rule, and dependency, apparent holism could be confounded with analytic perception. This research adds to the list of converging operations for distinguishing between analytic forms and holistic forms of face perception.

Full Text Online

Analyzing response times to understand decision processes

Gaissmaier, W., Fific, M., & Rieskamp, J. (2011). Analyzing response times to understand decision processes. In M. Schulte-Mecklenbeck, A. Kuehberger & R. Ranyard (Eds.), A Handbook of Process Tracing Methods for Decision Making. (pp. 141-163) New York: Taylor & Francis.

Full Text Online

Logical-rule models of classification response times: A synthesis of mental-architecture, random-walk, and decision-bound approaches

Fific, M., Little, D. R., & Nosofsky, R. M. (2010). Logical-rule models of classification response times: A synthesis of mental-architecture, random-walk, and decision-bound approaches. Psychological Review, 117, 309-348.

We formalize and provide tests of a set of logical-rule models for predicting perceptual classification response times (RTs) and choice probabilities. The models are developed by synthesizing mentalarchitecture, random-walk, and decision-bound approaches. According to the models, people make independent decisions about the locations of stimuli along a set of component dimensions. Those independent decisions are then combined via logical rules to determine the overall categorization response. The time course of the independent decisions is modeled via random-walk processes operating along individual dimensions. Alternative mental architectures are used as mechanisms for combining the independent decisions to implement the logical rules. We derive fundamental qualitative contrasts for distinguishing among the predictions of the rule models and major alternative models of classification RT. We also use the models to predict detailed RT-distribution data associated with individual stimuli in tasks of speeded perceptual classification.

Full Text Online

Information-processing architectures in multidimensional classification: A validation test of the systems factorial technology

Fific, M., Nosofsky, R. M., & Townsend, J. T. (2008). Information-processing architectures in multidimensional classification: A validation test of the systems factorial technology. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 34(2), 356-375.

A growing methodology, known as the systems factorial technology (SFT), is being developed to diagnose the types of information-processing architectures (serial, parallel, or coactive) and stopping rules (exhaustive or self-terminating) that operate in tasks of multidimensional perception. Whereas most previous applications of SFT have been in domains of simple detection and visual–memory search, this research extends the applications to foundational issues in multidimensional classification. Experiments are conducted in which subjects are required to classify objects into a conjunctive-rule category structure. In one case the stimuli vary along highly separable dimensions, whereas in another case they vary along integral dimensions. For the separable-dimension stimuli, the SFT methodology revealed a serial or parallel architecture with an exhaustive stopping rule. By contrast, for the integral-dimension stimuli, the SFT methodology provided clear evidence of coactivation. The research provides a validation of the SFT in the domain of classification and adds to the list of converging operations for distinguishing between separable-dimension and integral-dimension interactions.

Full Text Online

Studying visual search using systems factorial methodology with target-distractor similarity as the factor

Fific, M., Townsend J. T. & Eidels A. (2007). Studying visual search using systems factorial methodology with target-distractor similarity as the factor. Perception & Psychophysics.

Systems factorial technology (SFT) is a theory-driven set of methodologies oriented toward identification of basic mechanisms, such as parallel versus serial processing, of perception and cognition. Studies employing SFT in visual search with small display sizes have repeatedly shown decisive evidence for parallel processing. The first strong evidence for serial processing was recently found in short-term memory search, using target– distractor (T–D) similarity as a key experimental variable (Townsend & Fifi´c, 2004). One of the major goals of the present study was to employ T–D similarity in visual search to learn whether this mode of manipulating processing speed would affect the parallel versus serial issue in that domain. The result was a surprising and regular departure from ordinary parallel or serial processing. The most plausible account at present relies on the notion of positively interacting parallel channels.

Full Text Online

Assessment of mental architecture in clinical/cognitive research

Townsend, J. T., Fific, M., & Neufeld, R. W. J. (2007). Assessment of mental architecture in clinical/cognitive research. In T. A. Treat, R. R. Bootzin & T. B. Baker (Eds.), Psychological clinical science: Papers in honor of richard M. McFall. (pp. 223-258). New York, NY, US: Psychology Press.

Full Text Online

Emerging holistic properties at face value: Assessing characteristics of face perception

Fific, M., (2006). Emerging holistic properties at face value: Assessing characteristics of face perception. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis.

Parallel versus serial processing and individual differences in high-speed search in human memory

Townsend, J. T., Fific M. (2004). Parallel versus serial processing and individual differences in high-speed search in human memory. Perception & Psychophysics. Vol 66(6), pp. 953-962.

Full Text Online

Temporal factors in short-term memory search

Fific M., (2004).Temporal factors in short-term memory search, Psiholoïka istraïivanja, 14, 233-300.

General recognition theory and probabilistic perceptual separability on simple cognitive surfaces

Townsend, J. T., Fific M., Assadi, A. (2003). General recognition theory and probabilistic perceptual separability on simple cognitive surfaces. Paper presented at the Fechner Day 2003, Larnaca, Cyprus.

Dynamics of serial position change in probe-recognition task

Fific M., (2002). Dynamics of serial position change in probe-recognition task. Psihologija, 2002, Vol. 35 (3-4) 261-285. Curriculum Vitae

Relationship between practice and serial position effects was investigated, in order to obtain more evidence for underlying short-term memory processes. The investigated relationship is termed the dynamics of serial position change. To address this issue, the present study investigated mean latency, errors, and performed Ex-Gaussian convolution analysis. In six-block trials the proberecognition task was used in the so-called fast experimental procedure. The serial position effect was significant in all six blocks. Both primacy and recency effects were detected, with primacy located in the first two blocks, producing a non-linear serial position effect. Although the serial position function became linear from the third block on, the convolution analysis revealed a non-linear change of the normal distribution parameter, suggesting special status of the last two serial positions. Further, separation of convolution parameters for serial position and practice was observed, suggesting different underlying mechanisms. In order to account for these findings, a strategy shift mechanism is suggested, rather then a mechanism based on changing the manner of memory scanning. Its influence is primarily located at the very beginning of the experimental session. The pattern of results of errors regarding the dynamics of serial position change closely paralleled those on reaction times. Several models of short-term memory were evaluated in order to account for these findings.

Full Text Online

Representation and process in defining holisms partism: contributions from general recognition theory and stochastic cognitive process theory

Townsend, J. T., Fific M. (2001). Representation and process in defining holisms partism: contributions from general recognition theory and stochastic cognitive process theory. Paper presented at the Fechner Day 2001, Leipzig, Germany.

Temporal factors in short-term memory search, part I: An introduction

Fific M., (1999).Temporal factors in short-term memory search, part I: An introduction. LEP report, 72.

Temporal factors in short-term memory search, part II: Organization of memory and memory search

Fific M., (1999).Temporal factors in short-term memory search, part II: Organization of memory and memory search. LEP report, 73.

Temporal factors in short-term memory search, part III: Recognition and reproduction

Fific M., (1999).Temporal factors in short-term memory search, part III: Recognition and reproduction. LEP report, 74.