The Dual Meaning of the Term Context: Implications for Research, Theory and Applications,
COLORADO STATE UNIV FORT COLLINS
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A literature survey shows context alpha to vary greatly in its effectiveness and reasons for the variation are suggested as well as a theoretical interpretation of how it operates. Context beta is described and related to its underlying psychological mechanisms. Applications of both to Human Factors work are suggested. In summary, it is proposed that context alpha has its effect by increasing the availability of the class of response or single response which have been acquired in that environment or context. By doing so, the context increases the probability that the response will be made when its appropriate cue is presented. This interpretation assumes that the context is not itself discriminating about which one of the multiple responses it has made available will be given at any particular time. That is determined by the cue or stimulus associated with that response. In the transfer design the Stay group is favored by the increased availability produced by the context. But, in the memory situation context makes both classes of response available if they are experienced in the same context. Hence, the Stay group is inferior to the change group.