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Skaggs-Robinson paradox


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A surprising fact about the rate at which learning and subsequent recall are affected by the degree of similarity of the material to be learnt in two tasks carried out in close succession. On the one hand, the more similar the material to be learnt in the two tasks, the slower the rate of learning and the worse the subsequent recall, because similarity increases proactive interference and retroactive interference; but on the other hand, the rate of learning and the amount of recall are highest when the material in the two tasks is identical, because proactive and retroactive interference cease to operate and each task functions as practice for the other. Also called the similarity paradox. [Named after the US psychologists Ernest Burton Skaggs (1892–1970) and Edward Stevens Robinson (1893–1937) who discussed it in articles in the journal Psychological Monographs in 1925 and 1920 respectively]

Subjects: Psychology.


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