ERIC Number: ED239154
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Dialectics and Meaning: The Effects of Opposition in Cognition and Learning.
Williams, Richard N.
The literature of antonymy, though disjointed and inconclusive, has found that opposition is important to development, learning, psychological health, and creativity. To investigate the role of dialectics in cognitive processes and human learning, four empirical studies were undertaken. In study one, to investigate the dialectic process in affective assessment, subjects learned opposite and same word associations that had been paired for liked and disliked words. An analysis of the results showed that both the same and opposite groups showed a positive reinforcement value effect. In the second study, to investigate the relational ties between items, the previously used paired associations were modified to link nonsense syllables with four affirmations. High school and college subjects learned four affirmations for each of two root nonsense syllables. The results showed that both opposite and positive strategies facilitated learning. In the college sample, opposition was significantly more facilitative than all other strategies. In the third study, to investigate the linear quality of demonstrative reasoning, subjects learned triads of nonsense syllables from the middle range of associative strength. As in the other studies, a dialectical, oppositional strategy enhanced learning even in the absence of real semantic meanings. In the fourth study, an incidental learning paradigm using real words replaced the paired associate paradigm. Subjects learned the words intentionally or as part of an affective/nonaffective semantic task. The results showed that antonym pairs were recalled much better by the two semantic task groups. This research demonstrates the validity of investigating the dialectic construct and challenges the traditional associationistic and cognitive models of modern psychology. (BL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Antonymy; Dialectic (Concept); Dialectical Thought
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (91st, Anaheim, CA, August 26-30, 1983).