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Explaining away the negative effects of evaluation on analogical transfer: The perils of premature evaluation

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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Journal publication date2011
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Journal number5
Volume64
Number of pages18
Pages942-959
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Four experiments explored effects on analogical transfer of evaluating solutions to base problems. In contrast to reports of positive effects of explanation, evaluation consistently reduced transfer rates and impaired mental representations of base material. This effect was not ameliorated by encoding for a later memory test, summarizing, or engaging in similar processes at encoding and recall. However, providing a prior explanation task removed the inhibitory effect of evaluation. It appears that evaluation leads to encoding of extraneous material that interferes with access to solution-critical analogous information. Prior explanation inoculates against negative effects on transfer by ensuring that new information introduced via evaluation is organized around existing representations of relevant information of the base problem. The results suggest that the source of difficulty in analogical transfer may reside not only in retrieval and mapping but also in the initial encoding of problems.