- Testing adaptive toolbox models: a Bayesian hierarchical approach
- Psychological Review
- Volume | Issue number
- 120 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Many theories of human cognition postulate that people are equipped with a repertoire of strategies to solve the tasks they face. This theoretical framework of a cognitive toolbox provides a plausible account of intra- and interindividual differences in human behavior. Unfortunately, it is often unclear how to rigorously test the toolbox framework. How can a toolbox model be quantitatively specified? How can the number of toolbox strategies be limited to prevent uncontrolled strategy sprawl? How can a toolbox model be formally tested against alternative theories? The authors show how these challenges can be met by using Bayesian inference techniques. By means of parameter recovery simulations and the analysis of empirical data across a variety of domains (i.e., judgment and decision making, children's cognitive development, function learning, and perceptual categorization), the authors illustrate how Bayesian inference techniques allow toolbox models to be quantitatively specified, strategy sprawl to be contained, and toolbox models to be rigorously tested against competing theories. The authors demonstrate that their approach applies at the individual level but can also be generalized to the group level with hierarchical Bayesian procedures. The suggested Bayesian inference techniques represent a theoretical and methodological advancement for toolbox theories of cognition and behavior.
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