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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The eye of the beholder : discrepancy reactions and prospective memory retrieval Pestonji, Natasha


How do we react to cues that we process differently than expected? Discrepancy- attribution theory posits that cognitively processing targets with differing quality generates a discrepancy response that influences cognitive decisions. To test this assertion, I conducted a series of four experiments designed to investigate the role of a discrepancy-attribution mechanism in making rating judgments on abstract stimuli that differed in colour saturation. Studies I and II required students to discriminate between pairs of virtual grid patterns displayed in red, blue and green. Results on a same-different judgment task revealed very similar patterns of speed and task accuracy across colours, with poor performance on paired displays with only a small saturation difference but excellent performance when paired displays differed by larger increments of saturation scale points. These two studies provided a saturation discrimination curve, which could be used to find appropriate standard and discrepant stimuli for future work. In Experiments III and IV, I used this pilot data to then induce discrepancy reactions by first creating and then violating either strong or weak cognitive expectancies of the perceptual processing of grid patterns. Students were then required to make beauty judgments of these patterns. Results of Experiment III and IV revealed that discrepancy reactions caused faster response times when discrepant stimuli differed in a positive direction. Taken together, these findings can shed new light on the role of discrepancy reactions in cognitive judgments, and prospective memory. Discrepancy Attribution Theory has been proposed as the primary mechanism underlying prospective memory (ProM) retrieval, and these new results have implications for ProM cue retrieval as well as far-reaching applications for decision-making, advertising, and consumer behaviour.

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