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A Computational Process-Tracing Method for Measuring People’s Planning Strategies and How They Change Over Time

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Dayan,  P
Department of Computational Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Lieder,  F.
Max Planck Research Group Rationality Enhancement, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Jain, Y., Callaway, F., Griffiths, T., Dayan, P., Krueger, P., & Lieder, F. (submitted). A Computational Process-Tracing Method for Measuring People’s Planning Strategies and How They Change Over Time.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-158A-5
Abstract
One of the most unique and impressive feats of the human mind is its ability to discover and continuouslyrefine its own cognitive strategies. Elucidating the underlying learning and adaptation mechanisms is verydifficult because changes in cognitive strategies are not directly observable. One important domain in whichstrategies and mechanisms are studied is planning. To enable researchers to uncover how people learn howto plan, we offer a tutorial introduction to a recently developed process-tracing paradigm along with a newcomputational method for inferring people’s planning strategies and their changes over time from the resultingprocess-tracing data. Our method allows researchers to reveal experience-driven changes in people’s choice ofindividual planning operations, planning strategies, strategy types, and the relative contributions of differentdecision systems. We validate our method on simulated and empirical data. On simulated data, its inferencesabout the strategies and the relative influence of different decision systems are accurate. When evaluated on human data generated using our process-tracing paradigm, our computational method correctly detects theplasticity-enhancing effect of feedback and the effect of the structure of the environment on people’s planningstrategies. Together, these methods can be used to investigate the mechanisms of cognitive plasticity and toelucidate how people acquire complex cognitive skills such as planning and problem-solving. Importantly, ourmethods can also be used to measure individual differences in cognitive plasticity and examine how differenttypes (pedagogical) interventions affect the acquisition of cognitive skills.