Handbook of Mental Deficiency: Psychological Theory and Research

By Norman R. Ellis | Go to book overview

for retarded Ss, though it was -.54 for the normal Ss. A detailed analysis of errors indicated that stimulus perseveration errors disappeared early in the training of the retarded Ss, and position errors occurred more frequently in retarded than in normal Ss.

House ( 1960) found that when four objects were presented in different combinations on subsequent discrimination problems, the least difficult change was created by retaining the stimulus which had previously been correct and inserting a new negative stimulus on the subsequent problem. Next in difficulty was an old negative stimulus with a new positive stimulus. The introduction of two new stimuli was of intermediate difficulty. The most difficult changes were, in order, changing the previously negative stimulus to the positive stimulus while introducing a new negative stimulus, and changing the previously positive stimulus to the negative stimulus while introducing a new positive stimulus. It was considered that the deficit shown by retarded Ss in learning-set problems cannot easily be attributed to a failure to suppress negative transfer from previous problems.


CONCLUSIONS

The studies that have been reviewed provide representative demonstrations of experimental investigations of learning by retarded Ss. The work in the area is heterogeneous and fragmentary, and it is not possible to reach general conclusions. Only a few simple questions can be answered with surety. Retarded Ss are able to learn discrimination problems of the types presented, and they show evidence of developing learning set; duller Ss have more difficulty than brighter Ss in solving problems; and conditions can be arranged so that learning is facilitated. The studies suggest that experimental investigation of the learning processes of retarded Ss is feasible and that gradually more specific, less obvious, and more useful data will be obtained.

Before it can be concluded that a certain level or type of performance is a result of the intellectual deficit of retarded Ss, consideration must be given to other characteristics of retarded Ss associated with their atypical social experiences and environmental histories. The failure to consider such characteristics restricts the types of interpretations and the generalizations that can be made from experimental work.

Usually, comparisons have been made between the performance of institutionalized retarded and noninstitutionalized normal Ss. It is impossible from these studies to determine the relative effects of institutionalization and retardation on the differences in learning found between the two groups of individuals. The difficulty that retarded Ss have been found to have, especially during the early phases of learning, may result as much from fear and anxiety over being examined as from a basic learning difficulty or an inability to attend to stimuli.

Incentives varying from beads to candy have been chosen arbitrarily for use in the studies. Actually, in some studies different incentives have been used for the normal and the retarded Ss. It is likely that a particular type of incentive may have quite a different effect in motivating retarded Ss and normal Ss. Praise for correct response, for example, may have different

-436-

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Handbook of Mental Deficiency: Psychological Theory and Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contributors vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I 9
  • 1 - Field Theory in Mental Deficiency 11
  • Introduction 11
  • References 36
  • 2 - A Social Learning Approach to Mental Retardation 41
  • Summary 86
  • References 86
  • 3 - Hull - Spence Behavior Theory and Mental Deficiency 92
  • Introduction 92
  • A Summing-Up 129
  • References 129
  • 4 - The Stimulus Trace and Behavioral Inadequacy 134
  • Summary 155
  • References 155
  • 5 - The Role of Attention in Retardate Discrimination Learning 159
  • References 220
  • 6 - Intelligence and Brain Damage 224
  • References 251
  • 7 - Genetic Aspects of Intelligent Behavior 253
  • References 291
  • 8 - The Application of Piaget's Theory to Research in Mental Deficiency 297
  • Introduction 297
  • References 323
  • 9 - Social Psychologies of Mental Deficiency 325
  • Summary 348
  • References 348
  • 10 - Psychological Studies of Mental Deficiency in the Soviet Union 353
  • Part II 389
  • 11 - Learning: Verbal, Perceptual-Motor, and Classical Conditioning 391
  • References 420
  • 12 Discrimination Learning 424
  • 12 Discrimination Learning 436
  • 13 - Problem - Solving and Conceptual Behavior 439
  • Conclusions 458
  • References 458
  • 14 - Sensory Processes and Mental Deficiency 463
  • Summary 476
  • References 476
  • 15 - Perceptual Processes 480
  • Conclusions 506
  • References 507
  • 16 - Language and Communication of Mental Defectives 512
  • Introduction 512
  • Summary and Overview 550
  • References 550
  • 17 - Psychophysiological Studies in Mental Deficiency 556
  • 17 - Psychophysiological Studies in Mental Deficiency 569
  • References 571
  • 18 - Abnormal Behavior and Mental Deficiency 574
  • Introduction 574
  • Summary and Conclusions 595
  • References 595
  • 19 - Motor Skills in Mental Deficiency 602
  • Summary 626
  • References 626
  • 20 - Research in Activity Level 632
  • Summary 657
  • References 657
  • 21 - Academic Skills 664
  • Summary 687
  • References 687
  • Contributors 691
  • Name Index 699
  • Subject Index 713
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