The effect of modeled absolute timing variability and relative timing variability on observational learning

Grierson, Lawrence E.M. and Roberts, James W. and Welsher, Arthur M. (2017) The effect of modeled absolute timing variability and relative timing variability on observational learning. Acta Psychologica, 176. pp. 71-77. ISSN 0001-6918 (Accepted for Publication)

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There is much evidence to suggest that skill learning is enhanced by skill observation. Recent research on this phenomenon indicates a benefit of observing variable/erred demonstrations. In this study, we explore whether it is variability within the relative organization or absolute parameterization of a movement that facilitates skill learning through observation. To do so, participants were randomly allocated into groups that observed a model with no variability, absolute timing variability, relative timing variability, or variability in both absolute and relative timing. All participants performed a four-segment movement pattern with specific absolute and relative timing goals prior to and following the observational intervention, as well as in a 24 h retention test and transfers tests that featured new relative and absolute timing goals. Absolute timing error indicated that all groups initially acquired the absolute timing, maintained their performance at 24 h retention, and exhibited performance deterioration in both transfer tests. Relative timing error revealed that the observation of no variability and relative timing variability produced greater performance at the post-test, 24 h retention and relative timing transfer tests, but for the no variability group, deteriorated at absolute timing transfer test. The results suggest that the learning of absolute timing following observation unfolds irrespective of model variability. However, the learning of relative timing benefits from holding the absolute features constant, while the observation of no variability partially fails in transfer. We suggest learning by observing no variability and variable/erred models unfolds via similar neural mechanisms, although the latter benefits from the additional coding of information pertaining to movements that require a correction.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Acta Psychologica. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Acta Psychologica, (VOL 176, May 2017) at
Keywords: Observational learning; Relative timing; Absolute timing; Variability
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: James Roberts
Date Deposited: 15 May 2017 10:55
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2019 09:55

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