Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : In a partial reinforcement schedule where a cue repeatedly predicts the occurrence of a target in consecutive trials, reaction times to the target tend to decrease in a monotonic fashion, while participants’ expectancies for the target decrease at the same time. This dissociation between reaction times and expectancies—the so-called Perruchet effect—challenges the propositional view of learning, which posits that human conditioned responses result from conscious inferences about the relationships between events. However, whether the reaction time pattern reflects the strength of a putative cue-target link, or only non-associative processes, such as motor priming, remains unclear. To address this issue, we implemented the Perruchet procedure in a two-choice reaction time task and compared reaction time patterns in an Experimental condition, in which a tone systematically preceded a visual target, and in a Control condition, in which the onset of the two stimuli were uncoupled. Participants’ expectancies regarding the target were recorded separately in an initial block. Reaction times decreased with the succession of identical trials in both conditions, reflecting the impact of motor priming. Importantly, reaction time slopes were steeper in the Experimental than in the Control condition, indicating an additional influence of the associative strength between the two stimuli. Interestingly, slopes were less steep for participants who showed the gambler’s fallacy in the initial block. In sum, our results suggest the mutual influences of motor priming, associative strength, and expectancies on performance. They are in line with a dual-process model of learning involving both a propositional reasoning process and an automatic link-formation mechanism.