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Lecture 10

SOC483Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Family Resemblance, Eleanor Rosch, Cupcake

Course Code
Vanina Leschziner

of 8
SOC483Y1- Wednesday November 16, 2011 Lecture 10
Rosch- mainly concerned with the functions of the brain and cognition.
- Coins the term “prototype” which is very influential in the 1970s
- Developed processes that led to classification how we come up with categories?
o Categories are a way of making brain mechanisms more effective, given a limited
- Increasing interest in cognitive anthropology in studying the brain
- Learn categories of the brain through culture
- Tend to be the basic level- cultural schemas
- “perceived world structure” the way we see things in nature reflects how we classify them
- Example: differences in
create different basic levels for different people:
- - vet sees a collie; regular people see a dog
- interdependent relationship between how we perceive and how we categorize
Schema is a collection of categories:
- Category basic level cultural schema
- “prototype”: most representative; meets most requirements; average
- Implication for thinking in terms of central prototypes or using boundaries: more
arguments would arise about boundaries that are fuzzy so it is easier to think about
central attributes:
- Cognitive economy: easier and more effective than boundaries
- We use
of the world to create and organize categories
- use the way animals look (
) and
to create boundaries between categories
- Labels are important but don’t shape every thought
- Notion that language (label system) shapes everything to create a veil of perception: if
people do not have a word for something, they just can’t perceive it
NOT TRUE, just a misconception, what people used to think
- When things are prototypical we don’t need a label to identify them
- Only when boundaries are fuzzy, are cultural schemas and language referred to
- We only label things that seem to be on boundaries
- Prototype is a very simple idea that isn’t enough to explain cognition
- Interested in schemas to understand architecture of the brain
- Gaps in memory are filled by cultural schemas
- Describing day using the same “events” cultural schema of what we usually do
- Reasoning: simply forms of reasoning p, therefore q, is easy to identify but increasingly
complex logic requires more context
- Rosch- Principle of Categorization
- 2 principles for categorizing
1. Serves a function because categorizing provides maximum information with
minimal effort
2. Our perceived world of humans, is impacted by our categorization and how we
perceive it
Vertical Dimension has 3 levels
Exercise- *Muffin: a basic level object vs. another basic level object: cupcake then you
have subordinate level: blueberry, chocolate superordinate: umbrella terms, baked
Rosch studied the basic level object more which is when we come to horizontal
dimension of categorizing system
- Vertical: basic level object- there are 4 elements attributed to the basic level
1. Common attribute- basic level has the most common attributes
2. Common motor movements- “eat” associated with muffin, come to learn with
our interaction with the object which is how one comes about learning what a
chair is for example
3. Similarity in shapes-
4. The identifiability of averaged sized shapes rough outline of muffin you
recognize the shape ex. Bathroom sign
What is the use of all of this? she talked about implications of what is use of basic level
categories- implications on perception, language, imagery and development = always
Basic level categories- are building blocks
Horizontal Dimension “prototype theory” – most categories do not have clear cut
Ex. Cake and cupcakes- are they really different? Or just a marketing pitch
The typical difference depends on how we perceive thus making the category
*Prototypes appear to be just those members of a category that most reflect the
redundancy structure of the category as a whole. That is, if categories form to maximize
the information-rich cluster of attributes in the environment and, thus, the cue validity
or category resemblance of the attributes of categories, prototypes of categories appear
to form in such a manner as to maximize such clusters and such cue validity still further
within categories.” (pg. 37)
-- Ex. Muffin = prototype = horizontal dimension
*Nature of the perceived attributes perceived world
We re-examine thing when not orderly
Role of Context in basic level
Role of objects and events Rosch sees events as standing at the interface of analysis of
individual psychology events playing important role in social structure.
How we interpret a superordinate name facilitates culture- shared patterns of thinking
- high consensus
- development of cognitive anthropology investigating cultural knowledge
embedded in words and artefacts- shared with other humans
- cognitive presentations providing maps of the world, allowing us to adapt to the
world, affective action
- cultural representations present more than maps influence perception, memory
and reasoning,
Chips green to blue two groups of people: American vs. tribe language does not
include green or blue, only have light or dark vs. Americans who have language to
identify different colours.
Point of this experiment: idea common in culture and cognition and study of language
that the words we have shape our ideas. (Saussure) Thus language shapes our thinking.