Published On: 21/10/1999|Categories: 1998–2002, Vol.20 (1999), Vol.20 (3)|


Two experiments were conducted with the aim of exploring extinction and renewal in humans using a predictive judgments task. Experiment 1 found that pairing a fictitious medicine with a fictitious illness led the subjects to predict the illness in the presence of the medicine. When the medicine was subsequently presented without outcomes subjects learned to predict that the medicine was not followed by illness, though they continued predicting illness when a non-extinguished medicine was presented. In Experiment 2, after presenting medicine-illness pairings in a specific imaginary hospital (context X), subjects received the medicine alone in a different but equally familiar imaginary hospital (context Y). During a subsequent test, subjects predicted illness when the medicine was presented in context X (the acquisition context), while they predicted no illness when the medicine was presented in context Y (the extinction context). These results replicate those previously found with animals, and extent the ones found with humans using contingency judgment tasks. Different associative theories, particularly Bouton’s (1993) retrieval model of learning, are considered for the explanation of these results. Key words: extinction, renewal, predictive judgments, humans.

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