Accessing Similarity And Dimensional Relations: Effects Of Integrality And Separability On The Discovery Of Complex Concepts

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Journal Of Experimental Psychology


Exps I and II with 56 undergraduates measured the relative ease with which the 2 types of rules (similarity and dimensional) were discovered by Ss with the 2 types of stimuli (integral and separable). Results show that (a) dimensionally based rules were more accessible from separable than from integral stimuli; (b) similarity-based rules were more accessible from integral than from separable stimuli; and (c) in general, Ss had a bias to access dimensional relations in this type of task. Exp III with 20 undergraduates demonstrated that Ss were more successful in applying a dimensional rule to pairs of integral stimuli that differed by a small amount if they also had exposure to pairs of integral stimuli that differed by a large amount. Results of Exp IV with 8 kindergartners and 8 5th graders show that Ss more readily accessed dimensionally based relations. The relationship between the perception and the conception of stimulus relations and the nonprimacy of the dimensional axes in the integral stimulus space is discussed.

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