Challenging the superficial similarities superiority account for analogical retrieval


The predominant view concerning determinants of analogical retrieval is that it is preferentially guided by superficial cues. In order to test the cognitive plausibility of an abstract retrieval, we constructed a story-recall task in which structural matches between analogy source candidate situations and target cue stories were salient. In experiment 1, we showed that such salient structural similarities induce retrievals even when the subjects had several source candidate situations sharing superficial similarities with the target cue. Experiment 2 was designed to test whether the encoding was sufficiently oriented on salient structures to drive retrievals even if the subjects only possess one source candidate situation with superficial matches in memory. The results of the two present experiments lead us to conclude that abstract encoding and retrieval actually occur in some contexts induce a superiority of structural similarities on superficial ones in retrieval. Implications for analogical retrieval approaches are discussed.

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