This introductory chapter begins the case for how behaviour can be understood with just a small number of learning principles. Firstly the notion of learning curves is introduced, and common misunderstandings about learning curves are debunked. A problem with modern cognitive psychology is identified — that many theories exist that attempt to explain behaviour by positing systems in the head, but rarely do these theories attempt to describe the origin of these systems. Hence, many theories are merely re-descriptions of behavioural phenomena rather than explanations. The notions of skill and skill acquisition are clarified, and an overview is provided of standard skill acquisition empirical findings and relevant theories. The transfer of skill is also discussed, with an introduction to the theory presented throughout the book — the Component Theory of Skill Acquisition. The chapter concludes with an overview of the remainder of the book, and sketches a solution to the problem of cognitive psychology: that learning should be included as a key ingredient in any explanation of behaviour. A series of criteria are suggested for evaluating theories of skill acquisition.
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