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04-09-2017 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2018

Psychological Research 1/2018

Exploring the repetition bias in voluntary task switching

Psychological Research > Uitgave 1/2018
Victor Mittelstädt, David Dignath, Magdalena Schmidt-Ott, Andrea Kiesel


In the voluntary task-switching paradigm, participants are required to randomly select tasks. We reasoned that the consistent finding of a repetition bias (i.e., participants repeat tasks more often than expected by chance) reflects reasonable adaptive task selection behavior to balance the goal of random task selection with the goals to minimize the time and effort for task performance. We conducted two experiments in which participants were provided with variable amount of preview for the non-chosen task stimuli (i.e., potential switch stimuli). We assumed that switch stimuli would initiate some pre-processing resulting in improved performance in switch trials. Results showed that reduced switch costs due to extra-preview in advance of each trial were accompanied by more task switches. This finding is in line with the characteristics of rational adaptive behavior. However, participants were not biased to switch tasks more often than chance despite large switch benefits. We suggest that participants might avoid effortful additional control processes that modulate the effects of preview on task performance and task choice.

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