Learning a motor skill by analogy can benefit performers because the movement that is developed has characteristics of implicit motor learning: namely, movement robustness under pressure and secondary task distraction and limited accrual of explicit knowledge (Liao & Masters, 2001). At an applied level the advantages are lost, however, if the heuristic that underpins the analogy conveys abstractions that are inappropriate for the indigenous culture. The aim of the current experiment was to redevelop Masters’s (2000) right-angled-triangle analogy to accommodate abstractions appropriate for Chinese learners. Novice Chinese participants learned to hit table tennis forehands with topspin using either a redeveloped, culturally appropriate analogy (analogy learning) or a set of 6 instructions relevant to hitting a topspin forehand in table tennis (explicit learning). Analogy learners accrued less explicit knowledge of the movements underlying their performance than explicit learners. In addition, a secondary task load disrupted the performance of explicit learners but not analogy learners. These findings indicate that a culturally relevant analogy can bring about implicit motor learning in a Chinese population.
The authors are with the Institute of Human Performance, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.