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What is categorization ?

It refers to a process through which objects are sorted and classified

--> linking higher cognition to perception


There are 3 different categorization systems, each being associated with different memory systems.

What are they called ?

1. WM/ rule-based categorization system

2. Explicit LTM/ similarity-based categorization system

3. Implicit LTM categorization system


WM/rule-based categorization system

Decides whether a certain item belongs to a category by determining whether the item fits a certain rule that defines the category


Explicit LTM/ similarity-based categorization system

Decides whether a certain item belongs to a category by determining the item's similarity to remembered exemplars of the category


Implicit LTM categorization system

Decides whether a certain item belongs to a category by assessing the ease at which its perceptual features can be processed


--> the greater the perceptual fluency the greater the likelihood of membership


Why can categorization sometimes occur in "fuzzy sets" ?

Because categories may not always be fully bound to a particular context but may be diffused to different types of situations or contexts

--> objects may belong to one or more concepts, in varying degrees of fitness


ex.: a "fox" may belong to the category "dog" but not to the same degree as "wolf"


Which factors play an extensive role when learning to categorize ?

1. Language

2. Culture

3. Personal associations

4. Priming

5. Experience


Why do we categorize ?

1. Cognitive economy 

  • our minds are not capable of treating every object as unique

2. Minimizes the differences among members within a category + maximizes the differences between different categories



Do people from western vs eastern societies categorize differently ?

Yes, eastern categorization is more holistic, whereas western categorization seems to be more analytic


Anthropocentrism refers to the tendency to regard humankind as the central or most important element of existence, especially as opposed to God or animals.

Which factors influence/induce a more anthropocentric view vs a lesser one ?


1. Receiving less input about other species

ex.: not owning pets, living in the city


2. Receiving more input about theories of psychological causality for humans



Being more holistic

--> more likely see humans + nature as one


When does anthropocentric reasoning start ?

How long does it persist ?

It usually starts between the ages of 5-7, and is said to stop at the age of 10

--> it can persist in adulthood though


What is essentialism ?

A belief that things have a set of characteristics which make them what they are

--> view that for any specific entity there is a set of attributes which are necessary to its identity and function


Essentialist theory of race

Is a belief that race is a real entity that consists of underlying essence, determining a person's disposition and is characterized by clear, unalterable physical + psychological markers


Prototype based approach

Proposes the existence of mental prototypes/family resemblance

--> objects more similar to the prototype/typical are identified faster 


ex.: would rather classify an eagle as a bird than a pinguin 

(explicit LTM)


BUT: fuzzy borders !


Classical approach

All examples or instances of a concept share fundamental characteristics or features that are individually necessary + collectively sufficient

--> rigid, clearly defined, rule-based



Exemplar based approach

Assumes that people categorize new instances by comparing them to representations of previously stored instances (exemplars)

--> comparing to existing memories

(explicit LTM)


What is a concept ?

Which different kinds are there ?

1. Refers to a mental representation of some object

--> also prototype



a) Natural

--> animals, plants

b) Formal

--> adverbs, prime numbers

c) Nominal

--> items for traveling, study materials

d). Ad hoc

--> things to save from a burning house/ things that usually don't belong into the same category but now do


Basic level effect

Person uses his/her knowledge of how the concept is organized to justify the classification + to explain why certain instances happen to go together in same category

--> modulated by expertise


Theory based categorization

Implicit theories of general ideas stored in our minds will influence our category judgments


Cognitive economy

If we devide the world into classes of things, we decrease the amount of info we need to perceive, remember + recognize


Basic level category 

Refers to the middle ground between the Superordinate + subordinate level category 

--> shifts downward into subordinate category as expertise grows 


e.g.: better discrimination, more detailed description



How do we learn to cateforize ?

1. Concept formation 

  • abstraction of a feature set 

ex.: child acquires representation of the concept apple 


2. Concept learning 

  • applying a concept + getting feedback 

ex.: child learns why tomato is not an apple