Handbook of Mental Deficiency: Psychological Theory and Research

By Norman R. Ellis | Go to book overview
dimensions are not necessarily relevant from one problem to the next. In terms of the attention model, learning set could result from extinction of observing responses to the class of dimensions which are never relevant and the acquisition of strong tendencies to observe those dimensions which are frequently relevant.A contrasting kind of general interproblem transfer has been observed, which we have called failure set ( Zeaman & House, 1960). Trainable subjects suffering prolonged failure on a problem which proved to be insoluble (conditional reaction) were found then to be unable to solve the simplest (junk) problem, although they had previously been able to do so. Failure set receives a ready (although as yet untested) theoretical interpretation as owing to extinction of the observing response to broad classes of visual stimuli, such as those associated with the experimental situation. In the absence of any differential reinforcement for observing particular dimensions, the Pos for all dimensions should approach equality. Subjects have not only lowered Pos for the relevant dimension, but equal ratios of strength of irrelevant dimensions, a particularly unfavorable condition. Whether or not this explanation is correct, the occurrence of failure sets is taken as a strong argument for adoption of easy-to-hard sequences. If we compare the effect of extradimensional shift with that of prolonged failure, the implication is that even learning the wrong things may be preferable to learning nothing. Even though extradimensional shift gives negative transfer as compared with intradimensional shift, such training is not as damaging as prolonged failure.
CONCLUDING REMARKS
A theory has been developed in this chapter that the visual discrimination learning of moderately retarded children requires the acquisition of a chain of two responses: (1) attending to the relevant stimulus dimension and (2) approaching the correct cue of that dimension. The difficulty that retardates have in discrimination learning is related to limitations in the first, or attention, phase of this dual process rather than the second.A small collection of stochastic models organized by these general notions has been applied to a series of discrimination experiments with lower-level retardates including original learning, reversals, the effects of intelligence, stimulus factors, schedules, and transfer operations.While the domain of empirical relevance of the theory is given in part by a description of the experimental procedures we have used in studying two-choice visual discriminations, we know of no reasons why the theory might not be found to hold for retardate learning of greater complexity and in other sensory modalities. Nor is it unlikely that the theory may hold for nonretarded subjects of comparable developmental levels.
REFERENCES
ATKINSON, R. C. A "Markov model for discrimination learning". Psychometrika, 1958, 23, 309-322.

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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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