Blocking is the most important phenomenon in the history of associative learning theory: for over 40 years, blocking has inspired a whole generation of learning models. Blocking
is part of a family of effects that are typically termed “cue competition” effects. Common amongst all cue competition effects is that a cue-outcome relation is poorly learned or poorly expressed because the cue is trained in the presence of an alternative predictor or cause of the outcome. We provide an overview of the cognitive processes involved in cue competition effects in humans and propose a stage framework that brings these
processes together.The framework contends that the behavioral display of cue competition is cognitively construed following three stages that include (1) an encoding stage, (2) a retention stage, and (3) a performance stage.We argue that the stage framework supports
a comprehensive understanding of cue competition effects.