Effects of negative instances in concept acquisition using a verbal learning task

Robert D. Tennyson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Attempted to promote the acquisition of the concept of adverbs by manipulating positive and negative instances. The relationship between the positive and negative instances was based upon similarity of irrelevant attributes and sentence difficulty. Stimulus similarity variables were used to produce concept classification errors of overgeneralization, undergeneralization, and misconception. Then the value of the negative instances in concept instruction was investigated in a 2nd adverb-learning task by removing the negative instances from the 6 treatment conditions. Ss were 260 7th-grade students from 3 school districts. Ss in Exp. I responded according to the hypothesized outcomes. In Exp. II, Ss responded randomly on the posttest. Results indicate that negative instances are an integral part of concept acquisition. (17 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-260
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1973


  • positive vs. negative instances based on irrelevant attribute similarity &
  • sentence difficulty, concept acquisition in verbal learning, 7th graders


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