PSYB57 chapter 9

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17 Apr 2012

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Chapter 9: Concepts and Generic Knowledge
Conceptsknowledgedaily functioning
What possibility about what knowledge is, is that it is like a dictionary definition
o Could use definition as checklist when applying knowledge (i.e. what does a dog and a
horse have in common?)
Ludwig Wittgenstein said the difficulty with this proposal was that it was sometimes difficult to
give full definitions to some terms, even after thousands of years of trying to (i.e. virtue,
o For both complex and simple terms it is easy to come up with plausible definitions, but
it is also very easy to find exceptions to it
Family Resemblance
Need way of identifying concepts that highlights similarities within a category
o One way is to keep contents f definition but be more flexible is use of definition
Wittgenstein proposed that members of a category have family resemblance ( a matter of
o No features that all aspects of a term have, just like how no one member has all the
defining features of a family why a rigid definition isn’t possible
Prototype theory- In the mind there is a representation of the “ideal” dog, the prototype
Compare real life examples of prototype to the ideal prototype in your mind, no similarities=
object not being in that particular category
Prototype is usually an average of the different members within a category that you have
o Note: different people may have different prototypes
Fuzzy Boundaries and Graded Membership
“Knowing a concept means having a mental representation of concepts prototype
Since prototype theory characterizes from the centre (the prototype) and no by boundaries
(definitions), there’s no categories between boundaries, and thus each category will have fuzzy
o Fuzzy boundaries means that not all category members are even
Some are more or less in a category since there aren’t any definite
boundariesprototype categorizing has Graded Membership
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Testing the Prototype Notion
In sentence verification tasks (given a sentence and have to answer if true or false), there is a
longer response time for terms that are farther from their prototypes
In production task people asked to name as many, for example, birds as they can
o Birds close to prototype should be named first and then bird father from prototype later
Birds first mentioned in production task correspond with birds that were used
in the verification task that resulted in fast response times
Various tests such as picture-identification task, rating task, and typicality studies, all resulted in
similar results indicating the special members of a category
In one experiment, participants asked to make up statements about general categories ( “I like
to feed birds at the park), researchers changed up these sentences with prototypical members
of that category, or not-so-prototypical members, and the sentences were then given back to
participants, who were asked to rate how implausible the sentences seemed
o Hypothesis that when people think about category that are actually thinking about the
prototype for that category
Basic Level Categories
Not only are certain members of a category privileged, but also certain types of categories
o If shown a picture of a chair, and asked what it is, you are likely to say that is a chair, not
a specific answer like a Windsor chair, or a general answer like an item of furniture
There is a “natural” level of categorization we tend to use in conversations or in
our reasoning Basic-level Categorization
Usually basic-level categorization is a single word (chair), and
subcategories are not
Better are deciding what a BLC , like chairs, have in common, than an all-
encompassing category (furniture)
BLC also shows up in memory errors
When participants were read a story, and then after a delay were tested
on it, found that they misremembered specific terms for more general
ones (jeans stained was remembered as pants stained) and general
terms for more specific ones (remembered hearing about dogs, when
they actually heard about animals)
In all cases, participants revised story to more BLC
Children learning to talk seemed to learn BLC more that general or specific
Analogies from remembered exemplars
exemplar-based Reasoning (Exemplar: Specific remembered instance [and example])
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