Memory & Cognition

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 543–557

Problem-oriented training promotes spontaneous analogical transfer: Memory-oriented training promotes memory for training

  • Douglas R. Needham
  • Ian M. Begg

DOI: 10.3758/BF03197150

Cite this article as:
Needham, D.R. & Begg, I.M. Memory & Cognition (1991) 19: 543. doi:10.3758/BF03197150


Spontaneous analogical transfer is the use of information from one problem to solve another problem, without an explicit hint to use the previous information. The results of five experiments were that if subjects tried to solve a training problem before hearing its solution, or tried to explain a training story’s solution before hearing the correct explanation, spontaneous transfer was more likely than it was if subjects had studied the same training passage for memory before hearing its solution or explanation. The advantage of problem-oriented processing over memory-oriented processing occurred even though solution attempts nearly always failed, and the advantage was not reduced if the target problem was tested 15 min later rather than immediately after training. We propose that problem-oriented processes performed at study are appropriate processes to use at test. Further support for the account comes from subjects’ memory for the training passages; the advantage for problem-oriented processing on solution tasks was mirrored by an equally substantial advantage for the memory-oriented subjects on a recall task.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas R. Needham
    • 1
  • Ian M. Begg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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