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Reading: A Study of Transfer Between Isomorphs of the Tower of Hanoi Problem


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Research Article

A Study of Transfer Between Isomorphs of the Tower of Hanoi Problem


Ildefonse Nayigizente,

Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive et Expérimentale, Université de Montpellier III, B.P. 5043, F-34032 Montpellier, FR
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Jean-François Richard

CNRS ESA 7021, Université de Paris VIII, 2 rue de la Liberté, F-93526 Saint-Denis Cedex 02, FR
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The study concerns transfer between lower of Hanoi (TH) isomorphs. The training problem was a Move problem and the transfer problems were three Change of size problems varying according to the type of change evoked in the instructions. There was no transfer effect on the first trial of the transfer problem. A positive transfer effect only developed progressively and was manifest on the third trial. Verbal reports produced after solution show that there was no simple relation between explicit understanding and (1) the problem just solved and (2) performance in the transfer problem. It is suggested that the major progress in learning concerns goal ordering. Subgoal ordering learned in the training problem cannot be transferred immediately to the new problem, perhaps because to do so would involve a very abstract understanding of the structural role of each dimension, which is beyond the reach of participants solving a single problem for a few trials. The appropriate ordering has to be relearned in the new problem, something which requires time and may explain that transfer is based more on implicit learning and less on explicit learning.
How to Cite: Nayigizente, I. and Richard, J.-F., 2000. A Study of Transfer Between Isomorphs of the Tower of Hanoi Problem. Psychologica Belgica, 40(1), pp.23–49. DOI:
Published on 01 Jan 2000.
Peer Reviewed


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