Date of Award

Winter 2005

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Victor A Bennasi


Four experiments investigated whether memory errors might account for errors in contingency judgments. Participants viewed contingencies one event at a time, later recalled the frequencies of the four event types, and judged the extent that they were related. Contingency judgments were more highly correlated with participants' memory of the contingency than with the actual contingency (Experiments 2 & 4); thus implying that inaccurate mental representations of the contingency contribute to erroneous judgments. Decreasing the time to view each event (i.e., from 3 to 5 s) increased the perceived difficulty of recalling event frequencies (Experiments 1 & 2), decreased the percentage of correct frequency estimations (Experiment 1), and increased the likelihood of a differential pattern of errors when recalling event frequencies (Experiment 1). Participants' knowledge of the total number of events (Experiments 2), their knowledge of the distribution of the four event types (Experiments 1-4), and the actual frequency of the event types were found to bias recalled event frequencies (i.e., in Experiments 3 and 4); the latter of which was also responsible for the differential pattern of errors when recalling event frequencies. In closing, the appropriateness of using a statistic calculated on one's memory of the contingency to assess judgment accuracy was discussed.