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The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) has become a standard tool in the area of decision making, but recent studies have indicated that cognitive factors might distort the implicit learning expected from the original design of the task. This paper examines the effects of cognitive factors on the performance and learning outcomes of the IGT along two dimensions. First, the instructions for the task are manipulated to test whether more detailed information is conducive to adopting a winning strategy in the IGT. Second, procedural priming’s role is investigated by administering a pattern recognition task ahead of the IGT. The results indicate that instructional variation did not have a significant effect on learning patterns. Furthermore, the priming did not yield better results in the IGT compared to the control group. These findings suggest that the IGT is not driven by cognitive awareness of the nature of the task.


Originally published as:

Hawthorne, M. J., Weatherford, D. R., & Tochkov, K. (2011). The effects of explicit and implicit cognitive factors on learning patterns in the Iowa Gambling Task. American Journal of Psychology, 7, 64-78.

American Journal of Psychological Research (AJPR) is a peer reviewed, electronic journal covering all aspects of psychology, with special emphasis on collaborative research by students and their faculty mentors. Publication is sponsored by Dr. Carl Bartling, who provides free access to its contents. Authors retain copyright for their work. AJPR is permanently archived at the Library of McNeese State University.

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