Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Craig Speelman


Past research (e.g., Brewer, 1998) has shown that when people learn to solve simple formulae where elements are repeated over and over again, the greater the degree of repetition, the less transferable the skill. The current study tested one explanation for this observation; that training conditions involving little stimulus variation encourage the development of specific skills with low transferability. These habit-encouraging conditions were compared with a habit-breaking manipulation that involved presentation of unfamiliar stimuli throughout training. Participants were randomly assigned to one of 2 groups, the habit-encouraging and habit-breaking groups. The groups had 22 and 20 participants respectively. Participants were presented with the formula (x2-y)/2 along with values for x and y, and were required to calculate a solution to the formula and to respond whether the answer was odd or even. The experiment consisted of a training phase of 320 trials, and a transfer phase of 8 trials. The data were analysed using 2 split plot analyses of variance. The hypothesis of partial positive transfer was supported, that is, while participants were slower at responding in the transfer phase of the experiment than they were at the conclusion of training, they were not as slow as at the commencement of training. This result indicates that participants acquired specific as well as general skills. However, results failed to support the hypothesis that transferability was a function of variation in training. The implications of these findings are discussed.