Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Mordkoff, J. Toby

First Committee Member

Hazeltine, Eliot

Second Committee Member

Vecera, Shaun

Third Committee Member

Wasserman, Edward

Fourth Committee Member

Schnell, Thomas


Contemporary learning theories derive much of their explanatory power from the assumption that all stimuli presented vie for associative strength, the assumption of Shared Weight Space (SWS). Theories based on this assumption have proven successful in explaining many of the observed conditioning phenomena in animals. However, work with humans has proven more complex due to outside knowledge, biases, and heuristics (see, e.g., Chapman, 1991; Msetfi et al., 2005; Perales et al., 2004; Tversky & Kahneman, 1974; Viken et al., 2005; Waldmann, 2000 & 2001). The present series of experiments sought to test the assumption of SWS in a task that is less susceptible to the influence of "top-down" factors. An information processing task (i.e., the correlated flankers task) was used so that human participants were completing a central task (i.e., responding to the target) and were unaware as to the importance of the contingencies in the designs, yet were still exposed to them via the irrelevant information (i.e., flankers). Four compound conditioning phenomena were studied in order to test the assumption of SWS. Evidence for the simple predictions coming from SWS theories was mixed. However, a slightly more complex version of these theories can explain the entire pattern of data quite elegantly.


Animal Learning, Correlated Flankers, Incedental Learning, Information Processing, Irrelevant Information


viii, 134 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 128-134).


Copyright 2010 Rose Halterman Danek

Included in

Psychology Commons