Categorization and the parsing of objects

Pevtzow, R., & Goldstone, R. L. (1994). Categorization and the parsing of objects. Proceedings of the Sixteenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 717-722). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Several models of categorization suggest that fixed inputs (features) are combined together to create categorization rules. It is also possible that categorization influences what features are perceived and used. This experiment explored the possibility that categorization training influences how an object is decomposed into parts. In the first part of this experiment, subjects learned to categorize objects based on particular sets of line segments. Following categorization training, subjects were tested in a whole-part decomposition task, making speeded judgements of “does whole X contain probe Y.” All diagnostic and nondiagnostic category parts were used as parts within the whole objects, and as probes. Categorization training in the first part of the experiment affected performance on the second task. In particular, subjects were faster to respond when the whole object contained a part that was diagnostic for categorization than when it contained a nondiagnostic part. When the probe was a diagnostic category part subjects were faster to respond that it was present than absent, and when the probe was a nondiagnostic part, subjects were faster to respond that it was absent than that it was present. These results are discussed in terms of perceptual sensitivity, response bias, and the modulating influence of experience.

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