The Mind, The Model, and The Task
This chapter discusses several tasks that cognitive psychologists have used in order to understand the information processing capabilities of their subjects. The method employed has been to develop formal models of the subjects’ behavior, and to see how well such models represent the behavior. The chapter shows that these models are primarily models of the task, and that they represent the subjects’ behavior only because the subjects have acquired certain abilities that allow them to behave appropriately in the task situation. Performance on the first task was analyzed by building linear models of the subjects’ predictions and an optimal linear model of the criterion. The model of the task helps understand the conditional monotonicity inherent in it, and the fact that the subjects as well can be represented by linear models indicates that they are responding somewhat appropriately. The task with the higher multiple correlations between input and criterion also evoked higher linearity in the subjects’ responses.