Fernand Gobet & Herbert A. Simon

Pattern Recognition Makes Search Possible: Comments on Holding (1992). Psychological Research, 61, 204-208.



Chase and Simon's (1973) chunking theory of expert memory, which emphasizes the role of pattern recognition in problem solving, has attracted much attention in cognitive psychology. Holding (1992) advanced a series of criticisms that, taken together, purported to refute the theory. Two valid criticisms&emdash;that chunk size and LTM encoding were underestimated&emdash;are dealt with by a simple extension of the theory (Gobet & Simon, 1996a). The remainder of Holding's criticisms either are not empirically founded or are based on a misunderstanding of the chunking theory and its role in a comprehensive theory of skill. Holding's alternative SEEK theory, which emphasizes the role of search, lacks key mechanisms that could be implemented by the type of pattern recognition proposed by Chase and Simon (1973).