The relationship between strategic control and conscious structural knowledge in artificial grammar learning
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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We address Jacoby’s (1991) proposal that strategic control over knowledge requires conscious awareness of that knowledge. In a two-grammar artificial grammar learning experiment all participants were trained on two grammars, consisting of a regularity in letter sequences, while two other dimensions (colours and fonts) varied randomly. Strategic control was measured as the ability to selectively apply the grammars during classification. For each classification, participants also made a combined judgement of (a) decision strategy and (b) relevant stimulus dimension. Strategic control was found for all types of decision strategy, including trials where participants claimed to lack conscious structural knowledge. However, strong evidence of strategic control only occurred when participants knew or guessed that the letter dimension was relevant, suggesting that strategic control might be associated with – or even causally requires – global awareness of the nature of the rules even though it does not require detailed knowledge of their content.