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Psykhe (Santiago)

On-line version ISSN 0718-2228


QUINTANA, Gonzalo R; PONCE, Fernando P  and  VOGEL, Edgar H. Generality of the Flexibility of Processing Hypothesis in Human Learning: From Conditioning to Predictive Learning. Psykhe [online]. 2010, vol.19, n.2, pp.105-116. ISSN 0718-2228.

An experiment on human predictive learning investigated whether a visual stimulus composed of 2 elements is processed as a whole (configural processing) or as the aggregation of its elements (elemental processing). The experiment was conducted by means of a computer game in which the participants have to learn that certain microorganisms (cues) composed of 2 visual features (elements) produced an allergic reaction in fictitious animals. A total of 38 college students learned that 2 microorganisms cause allergy (positive cues) and 2 microorganisms do not (negative cues). Subsequently, the predictive value that participants assigned to a new microorganism composed of one element of each positive cue and to a new microorganism composed of one element of each negative cue was examined. The results indicated that the predictive ratings of the new cues were similar to those of their respective learned cues when the dimensions were perceptually separable (size and angle), indicating elemental processing, but not when they were integral (brightness and saturation), indicating configural processing. These results support the hypothesis that stimulus characteristics determine the type of processing in learning.

Keywords : configurationism; elementalism; learning; integrality; separability.

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