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Implicit learning of cognitive

structures with emotional


Rzvan
Jurchi, Adrian Opre
components

Cognitive Psychology Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Babe-Bolyai University, ClujNapoca, Romania


Introduction
The current investigation attempts
to uncover the possible role played
by implicit learning in generation
and maintenance of affective
responses. Using a modified version
of the artificial grammar learning
paradigm (Norman & Price, 2012;
Reber, 1967), we illustrate a
possible approach to this topic.

Hypotheses
Participants will learn an artificial
grammar that comprises neutral
components and a negative
emotion.
The learning will be unconscious.

Methods
Participants
Thirty-six students (10 men); mean
age 22.55 years (SD = 3.95).

Materials

Procedure
Acquisition phase
Half of the participants saw 30 strings
generated according to one grammar,
the other half saw 30 strings
generated according to another one.

Classification accuracy

Test phase 1
Forty new strings, 20 grammatical and
20 ungrammatical.
Participants had to decide which
strings were grammatical and which
were not.
Assessment of
conscious/unconscious status of
learning:
After every classification they had to
report:
the basis of their response,
choosing from guess, intuition,
familiarity, rules, and memory
(Dienes & Scott, 2005).
the confidence in the response, on a
scale ranging from 50% to 100%
(Dienes et al., 1995).

Test phases 2 and 3


10 grammatical and 10 ungrammatical
strings from which the emotional
images were eliminated (Test 2) or
replaced with randomly-appearing
neutral images (Test 3).

Confidence

Response attributions
62.00%
60.00%

55.00%
54.00%
53.00%

58.00%

75.4

56.00%

70.4
65.4

54.00%

52.00%

Strings of 5 to 10 images:
emotionally neutral images
sadness-inducing images (from the
International Affective Picture
System).
The place of the images was
determined by an artificial grammar
(e.g., Fig. 1).
The images were presented
sequentially, for two seconds each.
Where the grammar requested a
sadness-inducing image, one image

Results

60.4
52.00%

55.4

51.00%
50.00%

50.4

50.00%
45.4

48.00%
49.00%

40.4
46.00%
35.4

48.00%
44.00%
47.00%

Test 1

Test 2

Guess

Intuition & Familiarity Rules & Memory

Test 3

Test 1:
m = 54.91% (SD= 10.31),
t(31)=2.69, p=.01, d=0.49.
Test 2: 51.13% (SD = 16.16)
Test 3: 50.16% (SD = 13.99),
ps > .70.

Rules and memory: m =


60.14%, (SD= 19.99);
t(29)= 2.77, p= .009, d=
0.50.
Guessing: 53.11%
(SD=28.45) Intuition and
familiarity: 50.33%
(SD=13.24),
ps > . 50.

30.4

Correct

Incorrect

Correct responses
m =70.28% (SD=8.74)
Incorrect responses
m = 69.74% (SD=9.21)
t(31)=0.65, p= .51, d=
0.13.

Conclusions

Participants' above chance accuracy in Test 1 indicates that they have learned the
grammar. Moreover, their lack of accuracy in Tests 2 and 3 indicates that they
have learned the emotion as an essential part of the grammar.
The lack of difference between confidence in correct and incorrect responses
reveal that the performance was mostly sustained by unconscious information,
while the above chance accuracy for responses based on rules and memory
indicates that there has also been a significant amount of explicit knowledge
(Dienes et al., 1995; Dienes & Scott, 2005).
Therefore, this is one of the first studies showing that unconscious learning could
be involved in the acquisition of complex cognitive structures with emotional
components.
References
Contact info

Figure 1. One of the artificial grammars

Figure 2. Examples of sadnessinducing images

Dienes, Z., Altmann, G., Kwan, L., & Goode, A. (1995). Unconscious
knowledge of artificial grammars is applied strategically.Journal of
Experimental Psych: Learning, Memory, and Cognition,21(5), 13221338.
Dienes, Z., & Scott, R. (2005). Measuring unconscious knowledge:
Distinguishing structural knowledge and judgment
knowledge.Psychological Research,69(5-6), 338-351.
Norman, E., & Price, M. C. (2012). Social intuition as a form of implicit
learning: Sequences of body movements are learned less explicitly than
letter sequences.Advances in Cognitive Psychology,8(2), 121-131.
Reber, A. S. (1967). Implicit learning of artificial grammars. Journal of
Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 6, 855863.

Rzvan Jurchi
Cognitive Psychology
Laboratory, Republicii 37
Street 400015 ClujNapoca, Romania.
razvanjurchis@yahoo.co
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