Associative theories of learning and memory maintain that a psychological process is involved in conditioning. Very much a behavioral account (similar to classical conditioning) and causal in nature, associative theories submit that people forge judgments based on their experience of the pairing of two stimuli and based on the strength of these associations. The delta rule can be used to explain this account of contingency and causality judgment. The cue precedes the second event, the outcome, in a consistent manner and if the outcome is consistently regular, associations are formed between cue and outcome so that the two become synthesized together. It is necessary, Price and Yates believe (1995), that the cue precedes the outcome for associative learning to be achieved, although others opine that, regardless of whether cue does or does not precede outcome, it is sufficient for participants to believe it as causal to the outcome for judgment to ensue. Models such as the expectancy-value model (Fishbein, 1963) and the association model (Bowers, 1986) are examples of associative accounts. The expectancy-value model argues that attitudes are a total sum of evaluative beliefs towards attitude objects, whilst Bower’s association model, although taking a cognitive stance, maintains that cognition and affect are linked through evaluative memory-based mental nodes that, via spreading activation, instigate perception. The stronger, or more intense the experience, the more instinctive and pronounced the bias.
Rule-based theories on the other hand maintain that people arrive at contingency judgments by a sort of mental schema that encodes the events, categorizes them, and employs some mental logic to arrive at inferences and deductions. This it does by summing the frequency of events, and by employing a heuristic, referred to by Price and Yates (1995) as “blocking”, where perceivers