Difficulties categorizing via resemblance
concepts as theories
Difficulties with Categorizing Via Resemblance
recall that with both prototype and exemplar theory, judgments about category membership
should be based on the resemblance between the test case and the prototype or exemplar
Thus, with both prototypes and exemplars, judgements of category membership and
However, sometimes typicality and category membership dissociate!
e.g., Moby dick was not a typical whale, we still categorize him as a whale.
Another example of category membership NOT based on typicality
Armstrong et al. (1983) found that participants rated some odd numbers as being better
examples than others, even though they also consider all odd numbers to fit this well-
Some case that do NOT have typical features ARE accepted as category members:
e.g., a lemon that is painted with re and white stripes, injected with sugar to make it sweet,
and then run over with a truck, is still a lemon
Other cases HAVE all the typical features but are NOT accepted as category members:
e.g., a perfect counterfeit bill
All examples suggest that some categories are reasoned about in terms of essential
properties and not superficial attributes
e.g., the abused lemon still has lemon DNA; it still has seeds that would grow into a lemon
But how do we decide which features to consider and which ones to ignore?
Concepts as Theories
So far we have argues that categorization is based on comparing the resemblance of
superficial features of the test case to a prototype and/or exemplar.
This accounts for typicality effects and graded category membership
May be an example of heuristic - a strategy that is reasonable efficient and works most of the
time but can occasionally lead to errors.
However, we’ve seen that judgments of resemblance depend on other knowledge, such as
which attributes are important and which are not.
May require more holistic approach that involves a deeper understand of related concepts
this is known as the concept-as-theory view - helps us figure out which features are
superficial and which are essential