ERIC Number: ED235421
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Constraints on the Automaticity of Transfer in Problem Solving.
Stein, Barry S.; And Others
Research indicates that people do not spontaneously transfer prior clues to solve problems, even though the necessary information is available in memory. To investigate the effects of the symmetry between clue statements and problem statements on problem solving performance, subjects were asked to provide plausible explanations for five incomprehensible sentences. The clue words for clarifying the sentences were embedded in four types of sentence contexts: (1) similar surface/similar deep (containing at least two words also found in the problem statement/or an underlying relational structure similar to the problem statement); (2) dissimilar surface/similar deep; (3) similar surface/dissimilar deep; (4) dissimilar surface/dissimilar deep; and irrelevant clues. In the experiment subjects were given a list of 15 statements and asked either to rate their truthfulness or memorize them. After 30 seconds the five problem statements were presented. Subjects either were informed or uninformed about the relevance of the clues. Clues embedded in sentences that had little deep structural similarity to the problem statement did not facilitate problem solving unless subjects were informed about the potential relevance of those clues, regardless of whether they rated or memorized the clue sentences. However, clues in statements that had high deep structural similarity to the problem statement did facilitate problem solving in both the informed and uninformed conditions. These results suggest that the similarity in deep structure between the clue encoding context and the problem encoding context is an important determinant of transfer. (JAC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association (29th, Atlanta, GA, March 23-26, 1983).