Development and Transfer of Automatic Processing

Arthur F. Kramer, David L. Strayer, Jean Buckley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two studies were performed to examine the role of consistency in the development and transfer of automatic processing. Ss performed a rule-based memory search task in which they compared multidimensional probes to 1, 2, or 3 memory set rules. Results indicated that learning occurred in the absence of consistency at lower levels of task description (e.g., mapping of individual task components to responses) as long as higher level consistencies existed in the task (e.g., consistent mapping of task components to a conceptual framework). However, the asymptotic level of this learning was modulated by the consistency with which conjunctions of task components were mapped to decisions. High positive transfer was obtained despite replacement of the exemplars of the memory set rules, suggesting that learning was not specific to the items encountered during training. On the other hand, the magnitude of positive transfer was reduced when the rules were replaced, suggesting that most of the learning took place at the level of specific rules. Some evidence was also obtained for more general process-based learning. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for models of learning and transfer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-522
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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