Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



The dissociation between explicit and implicit knowledge has been shown in a number of previous studies utilizing the process control task, where participants would learn to control the system well, but not be able to verbally articulate their knowledge (Berry & Broadbent, 1984; Berry & Broadbent, 1988; Mathews, Buss, Stanley, Blanchard-Fields, Cho, & Druhan, 1989; Roussel, 1999; Sun & Mathews, 2005). This study attempts to advance this basic research in the area of implicit learning by examining the type of mental knowledge representation acquired in implicitly learned tasks, and also assess the transfer of that knowledge to conceptually similar tasks. Participants controlled a simulated nuclear reactor version of the process control task by inputting a selected number of fuel pellets to maintain a desired temperature on several tests over 2 one-hour sessions after receiving either instructions to perform the task through visual means, memorizing exemplars, receiving hints about how the task operates, or receiving no instruction. Results show that participants’ performance improves with experiential practice, even after memorizing the best responses on standard tests. Results from transfer tests (i.e., a novel target level and a different scale than previously practiced) suggest that explicit knowledge is less transferable than the implicit knowledge acquired through practice in this task. This study did not support that the process control task is normally learned through visual recognition of patterns of inputs and outputs across trials- however, the results neither support that the task is normally learned by the storage of exemplars in the form of a look-up table (Dienes & Fahey, 1995).



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Robert Mathews

Included in

Psychology Commons