Relational Versus Attributional Mode of Problem Solving?


We argue that the concept of relational priming (e.g. Schunn 1996, Day 2007) can be extended from priming of specific relations to generating a cognitive state during which subjects are particularly likely to encode and use relations. We conducted an experiment in which three groups of subjects did different tasks before a target matching to sample task was introduced which contrasted a relationally versus an attributionally similar alternative. Subjects in one condition were asked to solve tasks involving relational reasoning while subjects in another condition were asked to tasks involving only attributes. As expected subjects in the first condition were more likely to pick up the relationally similar alternative while in the second condition the results reversed relative to a control group. In conclusion we argue that this study shows that encoding of relations can be a subject to unconscious context influence.

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