Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 3–23

Implicit learning: Below the subjective threshold

Implicit Learning

DOI: 10.3758/BF03210769

Cite this article as:
Dienes, Z. & Berry, D. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (1997) 4: 3. doi:10.3758/BF03210769


In this review, we consider three possible criteria by which knowledge might be regarded as implicit or inaccessible: It might be implicit only in the sense that it is difficult to articulate freely, or it might be implicit according to either an objective threshold or a subjective threshold. We evaluate evidence for these criteria in relation to artificial grammar learning, the control of complex systems, and sequence learning, respectively. We argue that the convincing evidence is not yet in, but construing the implicit nature of implicit learning in terms of a subjective threshold is most likely to prove fruitful for future research. Furthermore, the subjective threshold criterion may demarcate qualitatively different types of knowledge. We argue that (1) implicit, rather than explicit, knowledge is often relatively inflexible in transfer to different domains, (2) implicit, rather than explicit, learning occurs when attention is focused on specific items and not underlying rules, and (3) implicit learning and the resulting knowledge are often relatively robust.

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of SussexBrightonEngland
  2. 2.University of ReadingReadingEngland

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