Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge: An Essay on the Cognitive Unconscious

Paperback | April 30, 1999

byArthur S. Reber

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In this new volume in the Oxford Psychology Series, the author presents a highly readable account of the cognitive unconscious, focusing in particular on the problem of implicit learning. Implicit learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge that takes place independently of theconscious attempts to learn and largely in the absence of explicit knowledge about what was acquired. One of the core assumptions of this argument is that implicit learning is a fundamental, "root" process, one that lies at the very heart of the adaptive behavioral repertoire of every complexorganism. The author's goals are to outline the essential features of implicit learning that have emerged from the many studies that have been carried out in a variety of experimental laboratories over the past several decades; to present the various alternative perspectives on this issue that havebeen proposed by other researchers and to try to accommodate these views with his own; to structure the literature so that it can be seen in the context of standard heuristics of evolutionary biology; to present the material within a functionalist approach and to try to show why the experimentaldata should be seen as entailing particular epistemological perspectives; and to present implicit processing as encompassing a general and ubiquitous set of operations that have wide currency and several possible applications. Chapter 1 begins with the core problem under consideration in this book,a characterization of "implicit learning" as it has come to be used in the literature. Reber puts this seemingly specialized topic into a general framework and suggests a theoretical model based on standard heuristics of evolutionary biology. In his account, Reber weaves a capsule history ofinterest in and work on the cognitive unconscious. Chapter 2 turns to a detailed overview of the experimental work on the acquisition of implicit knowledge, which currently is of great interest. Chapter 3 develops the evolutionary model within which one can see learning and cognition as richlyintertwining issues and not as two distinct fields with one dominating the other. Finally, Chapter 4 explores a variety of entailments and speculations concerning implicit cognitive processes and their general role in the larger scope of human performance.

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In this new volume in the Oxford Psychology Series, the author presents a highly readable account of the cognitive unconscious, focusing in particular on the problem of implicit learning. Implicit learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge that takes place independently of theconscious attempts to learn and largely in the abs...

Arthur S. Reber is at Brooklyn College.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:200 pages, 9.17 × 6.14 × 0.43 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019510658X

ISBN - 13:9780195106589

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Table of Contents

1. Introductory Remarks1.1. On Learning1.2. On Evolution1.3. On Measuring the Contents of Consciousness1.4. On Intelligence and Instruction1.5. A Note on Terminology1.6. A Rapid Historical Overview1.7. Summary1.8. A Personal Aside2. Implicit Cognition: The Data Base2.1. The Polarity Fallacy2.2. On the Primacy of the Implicit2.3. On Functionalism2.4. Some Assumptions2.5. Experimental Procedures2.6. Empirical Studies of Implicit Learning2.7. Methodological Issues in Implicit and Explicit Learning3. Evolutionary Considerations: The Primacy of the Implicit3.1. Some Introductory Remarks3.2. The Evolutionist's Line3.3. An Evolutionary Context for the Cognitive Unconscious3.4. Hypothesized Characteristics of Implicit Systems4. Implicit Issues: Some Extensions and Some Speculations4.1. Implicit Learning and/or Implicit Memory4.2. On Rules4.3. Knowledge Representation4.4. On Consciousness4.5. Prediction and Generation of Events4.6. Nativism and Empiricism4.7. Afterwords4.8. In Summary

Editorial Reviews

"In aspiring to resituate the question of learning as a problem of acquisition rather than representation, [Reber] clearly strikes at the central premise of cognitive approaches to learning and teaching and allows us to bring those premises up for inspection. This has got to be both a crucialand fascinating concern for many adult educators who have been so enamored for the past several decades with such issues as learning how to learn, metacognition, and lifelong learning....Those of us interested in the construction of knowledge and the power of research traditions can glean a lot fromthis insider's view of thirty years of empirical work....The questions the work deals with should be important to us as adult educators if we are truly concerned about how adults learn and how to structure our attempts at instruction." --Adult Education Quarterly