Contextual dependencies in a stimulus equivalence paradigm
SourceQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Section B, Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 55, 2, (2002), pp. 97-120
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC SMN
SW OZ NICI BI
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Section B, Comparative and Physiological Psychology
Two experiments with human subjects assessed contextual dependencies in a stimulus equivalence paradigm. Subjects learned to form two sets of stimuli in a matching-to-sample training procedure. Each set was presented against one of two different background colours, the contextual cues. At test, the influence of a context change-that is, presenting each set against the other context-was measured on baseline, symmetry, and equivalence trials. These three trial types reflect a difference in task complexity. It was predicted that the magnitude of context-dependent effects would be a positive function of tasks complexity. In Experiment 1, the context change was realized by switching the stimulus set at test while keeping the background colour constant. In Experiment 2, the stimulus set remained constant, and the background colour was switched. In both experiments, a change in context only resulted in an increase in response latency on equivalence trials; no effect was seen on symmetry and baseline trials. Results were discussed in the framework of switch costs, habituation to contextual stimuli, and a model based on Shea and Wright (1995) that explains the differential influence of a context switch on easy versus difficult tasks.
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