Some decks are better than others: The effect of reinforcer type and task instructions on learning in the Iowa Gambling Task

Gordon Fernie, R.J. Tunney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

80 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Iowa Gambling Task (Bechara, Damasio, Damasio, & Anderson, 1994) has become widely used as a laboratory test of "real-life" decision-making. However, aspects of its administration that have been varied by researchers may differentially affect performance and the conclusions researchers can draw. Some researchers have used facsimile money reinforcers while others have used real money reinforcers. More importantly, the instructions participants receive have also been varied. While no differences have been reported in performance dependent on reinforcer type, no previous comparison of participants' instructions has been conducted. This is despite one set of instructions giving participants a clear hint about the nature of the task. Additionally, in previous research one set of instructions have not been used exclusively with one reinforcer type making any differential or cumulative effects of these factors difficult to interpret. The present study compared the effects of instruction and reinforcer type on IGT performance. When participants received instructions without a hint performance was affected by reinforcer type. This was not the case when the instructions included a hint. In a second IGT session performance was improved in participants who had received the hint instructions compared with those who had not. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-102
Number of pages9
JournalBrain and Cognition
Volume60
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2005
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006

Keywords

  • Instructions
  • Iowa Gambling Task
  • Learning
  • Reinforcer

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