Behavioral Variability, Learning Processes, and Creativity
Final rept. Sep 1985-Dec 1988
ARMY RESEARCH INST FOR THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES ALEXANDRIA VA
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This research investigates properties of human behavioral variability. The behavioral variability is discussed in the theoretical framework of learning theory, developmental psychology, and the psychology of intelligence and creativity. Relevant aspects of scientific literature are reviewed. Experiments investigate the effects of environmental factors on the variability of sequences of responses as a function of age, of cognitive capacities, and of educational background for the adult subjects. Researchers used an experimental device that allowed for a number of equally efficient behaviors. Strategies used by subjects were recorded in various situations with differing degrees of constraint on freedom. Findings indicate that the performance, the variability, and the capacity to adapt to environmental contingencies are limited by the subjects developmental level but they are not directly tied to cognitive capacities or cognitive styles. The mastery of the task seems to be slightly related to the educational background. The results suggest that variability is an inherent dimension of behavior, sensitive to its consequences, and that the potential for variation depends on the mastery of a set of basic behavioral units. The results support the idea that variability can be approached within the frame of learning theory and that, as a basic aspect of problem solving and creativity, it can be influenced by teaching. Variability behavioral, Learning, Development, Cognitive processes, Problem solving.