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Diverse experience leads to improved adaptation: An experiment with a cognitive model of learning

Authors
Chase McDonald
Carnegie Mellon University, United States of America ~ Social & Decision Sciences
Cleotilde (Coty) Gonzalez
Carnegie Mellon University ~ Social and Decision Sciences Department
Dr. Leslie Blaha
Air Force Research Laboratory ~ Warfighter Interactions & Readiness Division
Christian Lebiere
Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 USA
Joshua Fiechter
Erin Bugbee
Carnegie Mellon University ~ Department of Social and Decision Sciences
Dr. Erin McCormick
Air Force Research Laboratory
Abstract

In dynamic decision tasks, the situations we confront are never the same: the world is constantly changing. Generally, our ability to generalize learned skills depends on the similarity between the learned skills and the situations in which we will apply those skills. However, in dynamic tasks, the situations we are trained in will most likely be different from the situations in which we need to apply skills. For example, in the face of emergencies, one could be trained to handle hypothetical disaster scenarios, but remain unprepared for the emergency that is actually experienced. How can we best prepare for the unexpected? Cognitive Science research suggests that heterogeneity during training helps people’s adaptation to unexpected situations. However, evidence for a general diversity hypothesis is limited. In this research, we investigate this Diversity Hypothesis using a cognitive model of learning and decisions from experience based on Instance-Based Learning (IBL) Theory. We focus on the concept of decision complexity to investigate whether confronting decisions of diverse complexities results in improved adaptation to unexpected decision complexities, compared to situations of consistent decision complexity. We conduct a simulation experiment using an IBL model in a Gridworld task, and expose agents to learning various degrees of diversity; we then observe how these agents transfer their acquired knowledge to a novel decision complexity situation. Our results support the Diversity Hypothesis and the benefits of diversity on adaptation.

Tags

Keywords

transfer of learning
diversity hypothesis
instance-based learning
adaptation
gridworld tasks
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Cite this as:

McDonald, C., Gonzalez, C., Blaha, L., Lebiere, C., Fiechter, J., Bugbee, E. H., & McCormick, E. N. (2021, July). Diverse experience leads to improved adaptation: An experiment with a cognitive model of learning. Paper presented at Virtual MathPsych/ICCM 2021. Via mathpsych.org/presentation/615.