Introduction. Suppose you encounter an individual animal you've never seen before. Usually it is not too difficult to categorize the animal as a dog or cat or whatever. How is it that we can categorize never-before-seen stimuli? How do we mentally represent the categories we know, so that we can generalize this knowledge to novel stimuli?
In this assignment you will explore several models of how people mentally represent categories that they have learned, and how people use these representations to categorize new instances.
Try it yourself. You'll see a series of 16 simple geometric forms that you should learn to classify as belonging to category X or category O. Each case consists of a rectangle that varies in its height from instance to instance, with an small interior segment that varies in its lateral position. For each case you see, try to memorize it before going on to the next case. At the end of the series, you'll see four novel stimuli that you should categorize as best you can, based on what you learned up to that time.
Do not print this page or the category-learning cases. After the learning sequence, a message will tell you what to print.
Click here to begin!