New strings for old : the role of similarity processing in an incidental learning task
Cock, J. J., Berry, D. C. and Gaffan, E. A. (1994) New strings for old : the role of similarity processing in an incidental learning task. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A Human Experimental Psychology, 47 (4). pp. 1015-1034. ISSN 0272-4987
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This paper reports three experiments that examine the role of similarity processing in McGeorge and Burton's (1990) incidental learning task. In the experiments subjects performed a distractor task involving four-digit number strings, all of which conformed to a simple hidden rule. They were then given a forced-choice memory test in which they were presented with pairs of strings and were led to believe that one string of each pair had appeared in the prior learning phase. Although this was not the case, one string of each pair did conform to the hidden rule. Experiment 1 showed that, as in the McGeorge and Burton study, subjects were significantly more likely to select test strings that conformed to the hidden rule. However, additional analyses suggested that rather than having implicitly abstracted the rule, subjects may have been selecting strings that were in some way similar to those seen during the learning phase. Experiments 2 and 3 were designed to try to separate out effects due to similarity from those due to implicit rule abstraction. It was found that the results were more consistent with a similarity-based model than implicit rule abstraction per se.
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