The effect of instructional set on hypotheses and behavior in concept formation

Charles W. Greenbaum, Sam Rakover, Bernard Stein, Abram Minkowich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In an attempt to provide a direct test of a theory of verbal control of behavior in a card-sorting situation, 24 University freshmen were given either a maximizing or a nonmaximizing instructional set. For 70.56% of the hypotheses emitted a probability of success was calculated; other hypotheses could not be reliably classified. For reliably classified hypotheses, the prediction of behavior based on probability of success of the hypothesis yielded correlations ranging from .816 to .975. When all hypotheses, including unclassifiable ones, were considered, correlations ranged from .539 to .825. Predictions based on probability of success were more accurate than those derived from the Dulany-O'Connell (1963) prediction formula; this was ascribed in part to differences in type of hypothesis used by Ss in the present study. No evidence for "dissociation" between hypotheses and placements was found, thus supporting Dulany's position that behavior in a verbal-conditioning situation is under the S's verbal control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-812
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1968
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
1 Part of the data reported here were presented at the American Psychological Association, Chicago, 1965 and in its Proceedings. The research has been partially sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research through the European Office, Aerospace Research, under Grant No. AF-EOAR 65-32 awarded to Abram Minkowich. The authors wish to thank David Max and Lilly Rabbie for technical assistance, and Don Dulany, David O’Connell, and Amnon Rapoport for helpful information and advice.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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