Animal Cognition

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 141–142 | Cite as

Configural/holistic processing or differential element versus compound similarity

  • Thomas R. ZentallEmail author


Before accepting a configural or holistic account of visual perception, one should be sure that an analytic (elemental) account does not provide an equal or better explanation of the results. I suggest that when one forms a compound of a color and a line orientation with one element previously trained as an S+ and the other as an S−, the resulting transfer found will depend on the relative salience of the two elements, and most important, the similarity of the compound to each of the training stimuli. Thus, if a line orientation is placed on a colored background (a separable compound), it will appear more like the colored field used in training, and color will control responding. However, if the line itself is colored (an integral compound), the compound will appear more like the line used in training, and line orientation will control responding. Not only does this account do a better job of explaining the data but it is simpler and it is testable.


Compound Test Colored Background Line Orientation Stimulus Similarity Element Stimulus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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