Testing theories of post-error slowing


People tend to slow down after they make an error. This phenomenon, generally referred to as post-error slowing, has been hypothesized to reflect perceptual distraction, time wasted on irrelevant processes, an a priori bias against the response made in error, increased variability in a priori bias, or an increase in response caution. Although the response caution interpretation has dominated the empirical literature, little research has attempted to test this interpretation in the context of a formal process model. Here, we used the drift diffusion model to isolate and identify the psychological processes responsible for post-error slowing. In a very large lexical decision data set, we found that post-error slowing was associated with an increase in response caution and - to a lesser extent - a change in response bias. In the present data set, we found no evidence that post-error slowing is caused by perceptual distraction or time wasted on irrelevant processes. These results support a response-monitoring account of post-error slowing.


Dutilh, G., Vandekerckhove, J., Forstmann, B., Keuleers, E., Brysbaert, M., & Wagenmakers, E. (2012). Testing theories of post-error slowing. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 7, 454–465.


    title   = {{T}esting theories of post-error slowing},
    author  = {Dutilh, Gilles and Vandekerckhove, Joachim and Forstmann, Birte and Keuleers, Emmanuel and Brysbaert, Marc and Wagenmakers, Eric-Jan},
    year    = {2012},
    journal = {Attention, Perception, \& Psychophysics},
    volume  = {7},
    pages   = {454--465}