This study was designed to determine whether the acquisition of second-order conditional discriminations becomes more rapid across new discriminations. Three normal grade-school children served as subjects. In general, performances improved across sets of second-order discriminations. Moreover, there was little disruption of performance when the second-order stimuli were changed from discrete forms to being compounded with the sample stimuli. Errors increased markedly when the second-order conditional discrimination shifted from one in which one second-order conditional stimulus indicated that the original contingencies were reversed to a condition in which one second-order conditional stimulus indicated that the subject should select the same comparison stimulus regardless of which sample form was present. Errors prior to mastery decreased, however, across problems of the new type-thus reproducing the learning-set outcome with new stimuli.
Pérez-González, Luis A.; Spradlin, Joseph E.; and Saunders, Kathryn J.
"Learning-Set Outcome in Second-Order Conditional Discriminations,"
The Psychological Record: Vol. 50
, Article 2.
Available at: http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/tpr/vol50/iss3/2