Inter-relationship of categorization and decision in a two-stage paradigm
Revolving around a two-stage decisional paradigm where a categorical decision was followed by an action decision, an inconsistency in choice behavior when both decisions were explicitly measured versus when only the second decision was measured has been revealed and replicated in the past twenty years. Such an inconsistency in choice behavior, referred as the interference effect, violates the fundamental properties of probability theory: the law of total probability and the Markov property and thus challenges a wide range of classical cognitive models of decision-making. Substantial theoretical efforts in the past decade have been devoted to interpreting the underlying cognitive mechanisms producing the interference effect. However, most of these efforts have relied on critical assumptions of the underlying cognitive structure and did not consider the response-time performance. To this end, the current study adapted the two-stage decisional paradigm for the extended application of a set of theory-driven response-time based measurements. Conjoining the utilization of the response-frequency measurement, we probe the underlying cognitive properties that may relate to the occurrence of interference effect. The results showed that with fewer restrictions on a sequential processing order of categorization and action decisions, the underlying cognitive systems tended to follow a parallel mental architecture and the processing speed of the deliberation processes tended to facilitate each other, along with observations of the interference effect in response frequencies. These results suggested that interference effects might be closely pertinent to cognitive systems characterized by parallel mental architecture and positively interact underlying deliberation processes of categorization and action decision.