Author: Gordon H. Bower
Publisher: Academic Press (January 11, 1975)
For the past 20 years, cognitive theorizing has operated within a frame-work that has now outlived its heuristic usefulness. In this framework, tasks that require generalizing to new events were assumed to be accomplished
in an essentially different way than tasks that require remembering unique past events. Perceptual identification and categorization, for example, are tasks that ask for generalization across trivial variations in detail; the subject’s job is to identify the word house as essentially the same word despite its being presented in different typefaces or to identify two different dogs as being the same type of animal. In the traditional framework, these generalizing tasks are accomplished by coding the new events in terms of general procedures and stable units that have been abstracted from past experiences. The new event is analyzed into relevant and irrelevant elements, with the relevant elements being used to identify the more abstract, higher level units that constitute most of our stable, “semantic” knowledge.
A string of letters, for example, would be identified as a particular word using the relevant letter features or graphemes, but not the nominally unpredictive cues from typeface or ink color.
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