Similarity involving attributes and relations: Judgments of similarity and difference are not inverses

Medin, D. L., Goldstone, R. L., & Gentner, D. (1990). Similarity involving attributes and relations: Judgments of similarity and difference are not inverses. Psychological Science, 1, 64-69.

Conventional wisdom and previous research suggest that similarity judgements and difference judgements are inverses of one another. An exception to this rule arises when both relational similarity and attributional similarity are considered. When presented with choices that are relationally or attributionally similar to a standard, human subjects tend to pick the relationally similar choice as more similar to the standard and as more different from the standard. These results not only reinforce the general distinction between attributes and relations but also show that attributes and relations are dynamically distinct in the processes that give rise to similarity and difference judgments.

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