UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The isolation of certain experimental issues in the continuity controversy Levey, Archibald Banks


The historical development of the continuity controversy in discrimination learning is reviewed in its essential aspects as a theoretical and as an experimental problem. Some implications of the controversy are discussed and an analysis is made of the trends of experimental evidence to date. It is found that, in experiments in which a relatively simple discrimination is tested, the continuity position is generally upheld, while in complex discriminations the issues remain in doubt. A fairly detailed statement of each of the theoretical positions is presented in an effort to clarify the experimental issues and to arrive at criteria which are offered as being essential for experiments directed at the controversy. The design of such an experiment is presented. This experiment could not be completed and the possible causes of its failure are analysed. In the absence of final results the data for the initial brightness discrimination are analysed and found to yield significant results in favour of the continuity theory. It is suggested that if experiments which meet the criteria arising out of the requirements of both the theories are repeatedly found to be inoperable or inconclusive the controversy in its present form cannot be held to have operational meaning. Areas of the controversy in which further clarification of theory is needed are indicated. References are included which offer a balanced survey of the literature.

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