This article applies to:
Experiment Author: Adapted from STEP and used with permission of Brian MacWhinney
This experiment presents 3 prototypes, then asks participants to identify them. Once they have classified minor distortions of them for two consecutive sets of practice trials, they are asked to classify some more major distortions. They classify distortions as either new or old based on whether they saw them in the practice trials.
This experiment displays several unique patterns of dots. Participants associate a pattern with a response. In the practice trials, there are three patterns and three responses: "a", "b", or "c". To move on participants must obtain 100% accuracy in the practice trials. The critical trials introduce several new patterns. Participants answer either "o" or "n". If it is a new pattern, press "n", if it is the recurrenceof a previous pattern, press "o". There are 24 trials in this experiment.
NOTE: Do not delete Unreferenced E-Objects in this experiment.
Posner, M.I., & Keele, S.W. (1968). On the genesis of abstract ideas. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 77, 353-363.
Cited Experiment Abstract
Previous work has shown that Ss can learn to classify sets of patterns which are distortions of a prototype, even when they have not seen the prototype. In this paper it is shown that after learning a set of patterns, the prototype (schema) of that set is more easily classified than control patterns which are also within the learned category. As the variability among the memorized patterns increases, so does the ability of Ss to classify highly distorted new instances. These findings argue that information about the schema is abstracted from the stored instances with very high efficiency. It is unclear whether the abstraction of information involved in classifying the schema occurs while learning the original patterns or whether the abstraction process takes place at the time of the first presentation of the schema.
Works Cited by the Experiment
Attneave, F. Transfer of experience with a class-schema to identification-learning of patterns and shapes. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1957, 54, 81-88.
Bartlett, F.C. Remembering, a study in experimental and social psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1932.
Dukes, W.F., & Bevan, W. Stimulus variation and repetition in the acquisition of naming responses. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1967, 74, 178-181.
Evans, S.H., & Edmonds, E.M. Schema discrimination as a function of training. Psychonomic Science, 1966, 5, 303-304.
Glanzer, M., & Clark, W.H. Accuracy of perceptual recall: An analysis of organization. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1963, 1, 289-299.
Hinsey, W.C. Identification-learning after pretraining on central and noncentral standards. Unpublished masters thesis, University of Oregon, 1963.
Morrisett, L., Jr., & Hovland, C.I. A comparison of three varieties of training in human problem solving. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1959, 58, 52-55.
Norman, D.A. A comparison of data with different false alarm rates. Psychological Review, 1964, 71, 243-246.
Oldfield, R.C., & Zangwill, O.L. Head's concept of the schema and its application in contemporary British psychology. British Journal of Psychology, 1952, 32, 267-286.
Posner, M.I., Goldsmith, R., & Welton, K.E., Jr. Perceived distance and the classification of distorted patterns. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1967, 73, 28-38.
Sperling, G. A model for visual memory tasks. Human Factors, 1963, 5, 19-31.
STEP: Good Patterns have Few Alternatives 
Re-run Trials Until All Correct 
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