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Dr Tara Zaksaite

Posted on 10 October 2017

Tara starts new position at Open University

Tara Zaksaite has recently been awarded a PhD in Experimental Psychology for the thesis "The Redundancy Effect in Human Causal Learning: Attention, Uncertainty, And Inhibition". Her PhD work explored the basis of the redundancy effect, an effect related to learning about redundant information in human causal learning. The redundancy effect refers to greater causal ratings observed for one type of a redundant cue (the blocked cue), than for a different type of a redundant cue (the uncorrelated cue). An example of a redundancy effect would be greater ratings for X than for Y in a design A+/AX+/BY+/CY- (where different letters represent different cues, + refers to the outcome, and - refers to no outcome). For example if this design was embedded in an allergist task, then food A, foods A and X together, and foods B and Y together would be shown as causing an allergic reaction, while foods C and Y together would cause no allergic reaction. It has previously been found that when presented with this design, participants indicate that food X causes an allergic reaction to a greater extent than food Y, contrary to the predictions of notable models of learning (e. g. Rescorla & Wagner, 1972). The findings of her PhD research indicated that the redundancy effect is due to contributions of participants' uncertainty about the blocked cue X and a lack of inhibition associated with cue C.

Tara is currently doing a post-doc at the Open University. She is exploring the impact of a financial education course. This involves working across different streams of research, including trying to underpin the psychological mechanisms associated with people's saving beheaviour, collecting quantitative and qualitative data, and working with non-academic partners to assess the effects of the intervention on real-life outcomes.

Tara is interested in how she can apply research into the mechanisms of learning and attention to every-day behaviours and outcomes.