Studies in Information Processing Theory

Similarity and Familiarity in Verbal Learning

by Herbert Alexander Simon, Edward A. Feigenbaum


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A presentation of results obtained by simulating various verbal learning experiments with the Elementary Perceiving and Memorizing Program (EPAM), an information processing theory of verbal learning. Predictions were generated for experiments manipulating intra-list similarity (Underwood), inter-list similarity (Bruce), and familiarity and meaningfulness. The stimulus materials were nonsense syllables, learned in paired-associate fashion. The predictions made by the model are generally in good agreement with the experimental data. The fit of the EPAM predictions to the Chenzoff data is particularly significant since it lends support to the hypothesis that the mechanism by which a high degree of meaningfulness of items facilitates learning is the high familiarity of these items.

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