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The role of similarity in human associative learning

Grand, Christopher, Close, James Owen, Hale, J. and Honey, Robert Colin 2007. The role of similarity in human associative learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes 33 (1) , pp. 64-71. 10.1037/0097-7403.33.1.64

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Abstract

In 2 experiments, humans received sequences of patterns that were similar (AX→BX, AY→BY, AZ→BZ) or dissimilar (CX→DY, CY→DZ, CZ→DX). The patterns were portrayed as bugs that could be eliminated with 2 insecticide sprays (red or blue). Either spray eliminated bugs with Features A and C, and participants learned by trial and error to use one spray (e.g., red) to eliminate bugs with Feature B and the other spray (e.g., blue) to eliminate those with Feature D. In Experiment 1, participants' spray choice for bugs with Feature A came to match that used to eliminate bugs with Feature B, but there was no such associative transfer between Features C and D. That is, similarity promoted associative transfer of responding between paired patterns when the features used to manipulate similarity (i.e., X, Y, and Z) were irrelevant. In Experiment 2, in which X, Y, and Z were relevant to the solution of configural discrimination, similarity hindered such associative transfer. These results complement those found in pigeons (R. A. Rescorla & D. J. Gillan, 1980) and indicate that similarity should not be accorded independent status as a principle of associative learning.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 1939-2184
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2017 02:56
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/33043

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