Acquisition and Transfer of Skilled Performance: Are Visual Discrimination Skills Stimulus Specific?

Stephanie M. Doane, Young Woo Sohn, David L. Alderton, James W. Pellegrino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)


The authors examine how the difficulty of initial training influences the acquisition and transfer of both stimulus-specific knowledge and strategic knowledge not tied to specific stimuli. Participants were asked to discriminate between random polygon stimuli. The order of exposure to very similar and less similar discriminations was varied, in which difficulty of discriminations was defined by the similarity of the stimuli being discriminated. Participants were then transferred to making discriminations between a completely novel set of random polygons. Exposure to discriminations between highly similar stimuli led to eventually faster and more accurate discriminations and superior transfer performance on novel stimuli. The results are explained by a theory of skill acquisition that includes both stimulus-specific knowledge and strategic knowledge that is driven by exposure to specific stimuli, but is not stimulus specific.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1218-1248
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Jan 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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