Role of reinforcement in discrimination learning set in monkeys

Douglas L. Medin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Analyzes the major theoretical explanations of learning-set (LS) formation in monkeys after reviewing empirical research on the role of reinforcement in LS formation. Studies showing that a reward can function to decrease as well as increase the probability of choosing an object cast doubt upon theories based on an automatic strengthening function of reward. Hypothesis or strategy selection theories avoid this problem by assuming hypotheses, rather than responses, are subject to reinforcement principles, but hypothesis theories are at best incomplete in their treatment of retention. A theory which assumes that LS formation results from between-problem stimulus generalization of feedback from expected rewards is consistent both with retention studies and with experiments on the function of reward in LS, suggesting that LS formation need not be considered a complex abstractive process. (94 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-318
Number of pages14
JournalPsychological bulletin
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1972


  • learning-set formation, strategy selection & stimulus generalization of feedback & retention & strengthening function of reward, monkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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