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Functional Learning: The Learning of Continuous Functional Mappings Relating Stimulus and Response Continua

Carroll, J. Douglas.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research, Princeton University, Associative Learning, Cognitive Mapping, Learning Theories, Patterned Responses, Scaling


A general model was proposed in which it was assumed that, in learning situations involving scaled stimuli and responses, subjects will tend to establish continuous functional relations between stimuli and responses. In particular, it was assumed that each subject has available a general "functional form" dependent only on certain parameters (psub;), and that in learning the subject effectively assigns specific values to these parameters, thus establishing a specific function defining a unique mapping of stimuli into responses. In the specialized case of the model, the more restrictive assumption is made that the general form is constituted of linear combinations of more basic functions, so that the parameters (psub;) may be identified with the weights assigned to each of these primitive functions in establishing a particular stimulus-response mapping. This "specialized" model was assumed throughout the present study. Three hypotheses were derived from the postulates of the proposed model, and an experimental study was undertaken designed to test these hypotheses, as well as to answer a number of related questions.

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