Sampling capacity underlies individual differences in human associative learning.
Byrom NC., Murphy RA.
Though much work has studied how external factors, such as stimulus properties, influence generalization of associative strength, there has been limited exploration of the influence that internal dispositions may contribute to stimulus processing. Here we report 2 studies using a modified negative patterning discrimination to test the relationship between global processing and generalization. Global processing was associated with stronger negative patterning discrimination, indicative of limited generalization between distinct stimulus compounds and their constituent elements. In Experiment 2, participants pretrained to adopt global processing similarly showed strong negative patterning discrimination. These results demonstrate considerable individual difference in capacity to engage in negative patterning discrimination and suggest that the tendency toward global processing may be one factor explaining this variability. The need for models of learning to account for this variability in learning is discussed.