term test 2 study guide
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COGNITION TERM TEST 2
CHPT 7 – Concepts and Categorization
Theoretical Descriptions of the Nature of Concepts
The Classical View
The Prototype View
The Exemplar View
The Schemata View
The Knowledge-Based View
Forming New Concepts and Classifying New Instances
Concept Attainment Strategies
Acquiring Concepts in the Brain
Implicit Concept Learning
Using and Forming Scripts
-Medin – concepts and categories serve as building blocks for human thought and behaviour
-Lamberts + Shanks – argued that the issue of how things such as concepts are mentally represented
is a central concern of cognitive psychology
-Concept – An idea that includes all that is characteristically associated with it – it is a mental
representation of some objects, event, or pattern that has stored in it much of the knowledge
typically thought relevant to that object, event, or pattern. Ex – concept of dog, 4 legs, barks, and
has a tail.
-Category – a class of similar things (objects or entities) that share one of two things: either an
essential core, or some similarity in perceptual, biological, or functional properties. Ex- 20
questions game; first question.
-Concepts are described as the mental representations of categories.
-Smith + Medin – elaborated on the important role concepts play in our mental life:
oWithout concepts, mental life would be chaotic. If we perceived each entitity as unique
we would be overwhelmed by the sheer diversity of what we experience and unable to
remember more than a minute fraction of what we encounter. And if each individual
entity needed a distinct name, our language would be staggeringly complex and
communication wirtually impossible. Fortunately – we perceive and remember each
object or event as an instance of a class or concept that awe already know something
-Keep in mind that we are focusing on concepts of objects and nouns. We will also see that the kind
of concept studied may affect the concept theories that are subsequently created.
Theoretical Descriptions of the Nature of Concepts:
(1)The Classical View
a.Domiant view up until the 1970s
b.Dates back to Aristotle
c.Organized around the belief that all examples or instances of a concept share fundamental
characteristics, or features.
d.Holds that the features represented are individually necessary and collectively sufficient.
i.Individually necessary – is to say that each example must have the feature if it is
to be regarded as a member of the concept.
ii.Collectively sufficient – is to say that anything with each feature in the set is
automatically an instance of the concept.
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oIt assumed that concepts mentally represent lists of features. – they are not
representations of specific examples but rather abstractions containing information about
properties and characteristics that all examples must have.
oIt assumes that membership in a category is clear cut – either something has all the
necessary and sufficient features or it lacks one or more of the features.
oThird, it implies that all members within a category are created equal – there is no such
thing as a better or worse triangle.
-Eleanor Rosch – confronted and severely weakened the attraction to the classical view.
oThey found that people did indeed categorize things on relative “goodness” – ex, sparrow
or robin is a good example of a bird, whereas a chicken or a ostrich is not.
oNegates the “all-or-none” law of concepts.
-People’s judgments of typicality of a concept was varied – people were more likely to list typical
than atypical instances. Ex – a robin is a bird, has higher response rate and faster, than did a
chicken is a bird.
oIn semantic priming studies, highly typical instances often led to better priming.
(2)The Prototype View
a.Stemming from the work of Eleanor Rosch –
b.This view denies the existence of necessary-and-sufficient feature lists, instead regarding
concepts as a different sort of abstraction.
c.Mental prototypes – conceptual researchers believe in the existence of these prototypes –
these idealized representations of some class of objects or events.
d.This view holds that prototypes of concepts include features or aspects that are
characteristic – that is, typical – of members of the category rather than necessary and
e.No specific aspect or feature need be present, but the more characteristic features an
instance has, the more likely it is to be regarded as a member of the category.
-Family Resemblance Structure of Concepts – a structure in which each member has a number of
features, sharing different features with different members. Few, if any, features are shared by
every single member of the category; however, the more features a member possesses, the more
typical it is.
oExample – the Smith brothers – From Smith Cough Drops.
-Rosch + Mervis – (1975) – asked undergraduate students to list attributes “common to and
characteristic of” objects given to them, and then asked to place those items into categories
subsequently presented to students.
oFound that items such as chair and sofa were more prototypical to furniture than
something like clock or telephone, but also that very few attributes existed for any of the
other six superordinate categories. For example, attributes of all fruits.
oPrototype – is some sort of abstraction that includes all the characteristic features of a
category. Mental summaries or mental averages of all the instances.
-Problem – is that concepts have one or more “core” representations, based on a family
resemblance, but have no rigid boundaries either.
-The “basic” level of concept hierarchy and Categorization – one level of abstraction that
appears psychologically fundamental compared to all other different levels of conceptualization.
oThey distinguished this basic level from both higher-level, superordinate, and lower-
level, subordinate, concepts.
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