On the category adjustment model: another look at Huttenlocher, Hedges, and Vevea (2000)

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Huttenlocher et al. (J Exp Psychol Gen 129:220–241, 2000) introduce the category adjustment model (CAM). Given that participants imperfectly remember stimuli (which we refer to as “targets”), CAM holds that participants maximize accuracy by using information about the distribution of the targets to improve their judgments. CAM predicts that judgments will be a weighted average of the imperfect memory of the target and the mean of the distribution of targets. Huttenlocher et al. (2000) report on three experiments and conclude that CAM is “verified”. We attempt to replicate the conditions in Experiment 3 from Huttenlocher et al. (2000). We analyze judgment-level data rather than averaged data. We find evidence of a bias toward a set of recent targets rather than a bias toward the running mean. We do not find evidence of learning. The judgments in our dataset are not consistent with CAM. We discuss other defects in HHV—including dividing by zero. It seems that evidence for CAM is a statistical artifact that appears when researchers analyze data averaged across trials and do not consider a recency bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-193
Number of pages31
JournalMind and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


  • Bayesian judgments
  • Category adjustment model
  • Central tendency bias
  • Judgment
  • Memory
  • Recency effects


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