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Title:Modes of Abstraction: Intentional Versus Incidental Concept Learning
Author(s):Wattenmaker, William Daniel
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Experimental
Abstract:Although learning often occurs in environments where the learner is not a deliberate problem solver, almost all studies of concept learning have proceeded as if explicit analysis was the only available learning mode. In this set of experiments the capability of nonanalytic learning to capture the frequency with which independent components and configurations of components occur was examined. In Experiments 1 and 2 it was found that single components or features are encoded automatically and without intention regardless of the processing objective, although some evidence suggested a dissociation between the availability and use of this information. Some sensitivity to covariations between features was observed with nonanalytic learning while pronounced use of feature covariations was found with analytic strategies. Blocking learning examples that overlapped on correlated dimensions was found to facilitate detection of correlations in both analytic and nonanalytic conditions. Experiments 3 and 4 used nonanalytic learning tasks that promoted exemplar storage and nonanalytic learning resulted in greater sensitivity to complex correlations between features than analytic strategies. Classification decisions in the nonanalytic conditions appeared to be based on analogy to recallable old examples. The strategy of classifying new cases by analogy to old examples was argued to lead to the implicit preservation of complex relations present in the stimulus materials. This analogical strategy proved to be surprisingly powerful not only for preserving correlated information in decision making, but also as a mechanism for generating abstractions.
Issue Date:1987
Description:193 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8803229
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1987

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