When and where do we apply what we learn? A taxonomy for far transfer

Psychol Bull. 2002 Jul;128(4):612-37. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.128.4.612.


Despite a century's worth of research, arguments surrounding the question of whether far transfer occurs have made little progress toward resolution. The authors argue the reason for this confusion is a failure to specify various dimensions along which transfer can occur, resulting in comparisons of "apples and oranges." They provide a framework that describes 9 relevant dimensions and show that the literature can productively be classified along these dimensions, with each study situated at the intersection of various dimensions. Estimation of a single effect size for far transfer is misguided in view of this complexity. The past 100 years of research shows that evidence for transfer under some conditions is substantial, but critical conditions for many key questions are untested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Child
  • Concept Formation
  • Generalization, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Mental Recall
  • Transfer, Psychology*