Bending rules: the shape of the perceptual generalisation gradient is sensitive to inference rules

Boddez, Yannick and Bennett, Marc Patrick and van Esch, Silke and Beckers, Tom
Cognition and Emotion: 1—9, 2016

Generalising what is learned about one stimulus to other but perceptually related stimuli is a basic behavioural phenomenon. We evaluated whether a rule learning mechanism may serve to explain such generalisation. To this end, we assessed whether inference rules communicated through verbal instructions affect generalisation. Expectancy ratings, but not valence ratings, proved sensitive to this manipulation. In addition to revealing a role for inference rules in generalisation, our study has clinical implications as well. More specifically, we argue that targeting inference rules might prove to be an effective strategy to affect the excessive generalisation that is often observed in psychopathology.