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Effect of Structural Embedding on Analogical Transfer: Manifest versus Latent Analogs

Catherine A. Clement
The American Journal of Psychology
Vol. 107, No. 1 (Spring, 1994), pp. 1-38
DOI: 10.2307/1423287
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1423287
Page Count: 38
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Effect of Structural Embedding on Analogical Transfer: Manifest versus Latent Analogs
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Abstract

Analogical transfer is often difficult because the structure common to two analogous domains is embedded in specific contexts that differ at the surface level. The present study examines a dimension of domain representations that may affect the ease of retrieval and use of analogs represented in memory. Two groups of subjects studied base stories that were analogous to target problems. The stories differed between groups in the manner in which the analogous relational structure was described. One group learned latent versions of the analogs in which the key relations were deeply embedded in domain-specific content. The other group learned manifest versions in which the relations were still linked to specific content, but were conveyed relatively directly with less domain-specific detail about how the relations were instantiated. A third group learned explicit schematic descriptions of the relevant relational structures. Subjects given mainfest analogs and subjects given the explicit schema performed better on various aspects of analogical transfer than did subjects given latent analogs. Manifest analogs appear to embody a level of representation of specific cases that allows relatively easy transfer to novel contexts.

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