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Felipe Munoz-Rubke, Devon Olson, Russell Will, Karin James; Impact of tool function knowledge on visually-informed mechanical problem solving . Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):983. doi: 10.1167/16.12.983.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Learning about tool function can occur through active experiences, observation of others, and theoretical descriptions (e.g. reading). Previous research suggests that prior knowledge of function interferes with discovering alternative tool functions. Here, we asked whether acquiring knowledge about function through different modalities generates interference in problem-solving contexts where only visual information is available. After assessments (Intuitive Physics, Grooved Pegboard), 118 participants were randomly assigned to one training (Manual, Video, Reading) or control (Alternative-Use, No-training) condition and asked to solve 6 mechanical problem-solving tasks. Importantly, participants in the training conditions had to identify alternative functions to solve the problems, but participants in the control conditions did not. During Manual training, participants learned to manually use novel tools; during Video training, participants watched an experimenter using them; during Reading training, participants saw a picture and read how to use them; during Alternative-Use training, participants watched an experimenter and learned the alternative function needed to solve each mechanical task; and for the No-training condition, participants were not trained. Participants had a maximum of 2 attempts to solve each task. Each attempt involved a planning session when participants visually inspected a task apparatus with 3 tools, immediately followed by an execution session when they enacted their chosen solution with their chosen tool. A multiple regression with total time in both attempts as DV provided a significant effect for training condition, intuitive physics, and task (adj.R2=.26). Interestingly, participants in control conditions tended to be faster than those in training conditions. However, when predicting only planning among those who solved the task in the first attempt, participants in the Reading condition tended to be slower than the remaining (adj.R2=.36). Results suggest that the modality of knowledge acquisition when learning about tool function can affect planning and execution time in problem-solving contexts reliant upon only visual information.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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