Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-27-1976


The rapidity of acquisition of matching-to-sample behavior has repeatedly been shown to be related directly to the stimulus dimension from which the matching stimuli are selected. In short, pigeons acquire matching with color stimuli much more rapidly than matching with geometric form stimuli. Recent attempts to explain this finding have suggested that the discriminability of the sample stimulus from other sample stimuli is an important variable contributing to this effect. In addition, it has been suggested that relative acquisition rates of matching-to-sample behavior can be predicted from acquisition rates of simple discrimination tasks. The present series of experiments were designed to explore these possibilities by selectively pretraining with stimuli of the matching stimulus population prior to the introduction of the matching-to-sample task.

In Experiment I, pigeons were assigned to groups which received successive discrimination-form pretraining, successive nondifferential-­form pretraining, successive discrimination-color pretraining, successive nondifferential-color pretraining, or no pretraining prior to the introduction of the simultaneous matching-to-sample task which used form stimuli. Experiment II was identical to Experiment I with the exception that, during pretraining, the stimuli were presented simultaneously rather than successively. Experiment III was a systematic replication of Experiment I using stimuli that had previously been shown to yield more protracted acquisition of matching-­to-sample behavior.

Results indicated that the selective pretraining procedures used failed to affect significantly acquisition of matching-to-sample behavior. This finding held for both acquisition of matching following successive pretraining (Experiment I) and simultaneous pretraining (Experiment II) as well as for acquisition of the more difficult matching-to-sample task (Experiment III). In addition, no evidence for differential acquisition of the pretraining tasks per se appeared.

The analysis of matching-to-sample behavior in terms of the summation of simpler discrimination components and the implications of this analysis for theories of discrimination learning were discussed.

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Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Douglas Peter Ferraro

Second Committee Member

John Paul Gluck Jr.

Third Committee Member

Joseph Anthony Parsons

Fourth Committee Member

G. Robert Grice

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Included in

Psychology Commons