Generalization of the orienting response to significant stimuli: The roles of common and distinctive stimulus components

Authors


  • This research was supported by the Israel Foundation Trustees. We thank Ygaal Atali, Ariel Goler, and Sharon Avni for their help in the data collection and Ram Frost for his helpful comments.

Address reprint requests to: Prof. Gershon Ben-Shakhar, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 91905 Israel.

Abstract

This study focused on the effects of common and distinctive stimulus components on the generalization of the orienting response (OR) to significant stimuli. Compound pictorial stimuli were used as the relevant items memorized by the subjects. Skin conductance responses were measured during the subsequent presentation of a stimulus sequence that included a test stimulus that shared some common components with the relevant one. The two types of stimulus components (common and distinctive) were independently manipulated. As predicted by the feature-matching theory, both types of features affected OR generalization, but the distinctive components effect was due mainly to a large decline in OR with the introduction of the first distinctive component. As hypothesized, no interaction was observed between the effects of common and distinctive components. Contrary to expectations, similar OR generalization was obtained regardless of whether the test stimulus was constructed by deleting stimulus components from the relevant stimulus or by adding components to that stimulus.

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