Term of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Kent D. Bodily

Committee Member 1

Bradley R. Sturz

Committee Member 2

Janice N. Steirn

Committee Member 3

Janice N. Steirn


The current experiment investigated the mixed results seen in spatial blocking paradigms; there have been procedures that have shown and not shown blocking of added landmarks in the spatial domain. Typically, the Associative theory of learning has been applied to spatial learning. However, spatial blocking paradigms cannot be explained solely with this theory. The Multiple Bearings Hypothesis (MBH) may be able to explain these differences. The current experiment employed a three-phase blocking paradigm to examine what factors are responsible for the mixed results. The first Phase, Phase 0, incrementally shaped human participants' goal location behavior with two ambiguous landmarks. In the second phase, Phase 1, participants experienced one additional landmark that disambiguated the location of the goal. The third phase, Phase 2, presented three additional landmarks. Participants were divided into three groups that experienced stability of the landmark presentations in Phase 2 differently. Results showed that the MBH can help to explain the results with spatial blocking. Participants were able to locate the goal in the presence of the added landmarks. Participants learned about the added landmarks as they relate to the goal location. However, landmark stability and proximity are important factors that affect subsequent learning of added landmarks.

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