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Investigating the complexity of interactions between attributions and beliefs: evidence from a novel task

Zamfir, Elena; (2021) Investigating the complexity of interactions between attributions and beliefs: evidence from a novel task. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis presents our work investigating the nature of and interactions between processes underlying causal attributions and the formation and updating of beliefs. The two research directions that constitute the main inspiration for our work - research in psychiatry and computational accounts of decisionmaking - have traditionally been separate; however there has recently been a growing effort to bridge the gap by bringing computational tools to bear on fundamental research questions in psychiatry. We contribute to this effort by designing a quantitative framework for phrasing, exploring and testing hypotheses associated with the attribution-self-representation cycle theory. We developed a novel task, in which attributions and beliefs about the self are measured repeatedly, producing the time series data necessary to investigate interactions between these two variables on a trial-by-trial basis. Importantly, subjects’ beliefs and causal attributions are probed with regard to real outcomes, experienced in the context of learning a skill task, and in the absence of any manipulation targeting their content. We present evidence of effects consistent with the cycle postulated by the theory, namely trial-level effects of attributions on beliefs about skill and effects of beliefs about skill on attributions, neither of which can be reduced to the effect of objective performance. The richness of the task enabled the revelation of substantial behavioural complexity, suggesting testable hypotheses for future work. Of note among these are questions about the modulation of attribution-belief interactions by outcome valence, and the factors governing differential processing of various task features. In sum, our work proposed and implemented a novel framework for investigations into the dynamics of beliefs and causal attributions, and completed the first steps towards a precise formalisation and testing of the theoretical proposal in this framework, while providing novel evidence in support of the theory.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Investigating the complexity of interactions between attributions and beliefs: evidence from a novel task
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Gatsby Computational Neurosci Unit
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10127545
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