Meaning and Associative Learning
This chapter is concerned with the effects of the various dimensions of stimulus meaning on associative learning and memory, and with the functions of imaginal and verbal processes in such learning, as inferred from the observed effects. Attention again centers on the imagery value or concreteness of items because that attribute provides the only semantic definition of imagery as a process. The major contrasting variable in the empirical-theoretical debate will be verbal associative meaningfulness, which defines the availability of implicit verbal reactions that could serve as mediators of associations between items, but comparisons will also be made with numerous other attributes in order to isolate the primary semantic correlates of associative learning. It can be said in anticipation of the data that imagery-concreteness turns out to be singularly effective as a stimulus attribute. The theoretical interpretation of that effect accordingly becomes the focal problem of the chapter.