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How does the (re)presentation of instructions influence their implementation?

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Instructions are so effective that they can sometimes affect performance beyond the instructed context. Such U+2018automaticU+2019 effects of instructions (AEI) have received much interest recently. It has been argued that AEI are restricted to relatively simple and specific S-R tasks or action plans. The present study put this idea further to the test. In a series of experiments based on the NEXT paradigm (Meiran, Pereg, Kessler, Cole, & Braver, 2015a) we investigated the specificity of AEI. In Experiment 1, we presented category-response instructions instead of S-R instructions. Nevertheless, we observed AEI for novel stimuli from the instructed category (Experiment 1a), and abstractness of the category did not modulate the size of the NEXT effect (Experiment 1b). However, Experiment 2 revealed specificity at the response level: AEI were much smaller in conditions where the instructed GO response is semantically related to, but procedurally different from the required NEXT response, compared to a condition where the NEXT and GO responses were the same. Combined, these findings indicate that AEI can occur when S(C)-R instructions are abstract at the stimulus level, arguing against previous proposals. However, AEI does seem to require specificity at the response level. We discuss implications for recent theories of instruction-based learning and AEI.
ISSN: 2514-4820
Issue: 1
Volume: 2
Publication year:2019