Isolated and Interrelated Concepts.

Goldstone, R. L. (1996). Isolated and Interrelated Concepts. Memory & Cognition24, 608-628

A continuum between purely isolated and purely interrelated concepts is described. A concept is interrelated to the extent that it is influenced by other concepts. Methods for manipulating and identiying a concept`s degree of interrelatedness are introduced. Relatively isolated concepts are empirically identified by a relatively large use of nondiagnostic features, and by better categorization performance for a concept`s prototype than for a caricature of the concept. Relatively interrelated concepts are identified by minimal use of nondiagnostic features, and by better categorization performance for a caricature than a prototype. A concept is likely to be relatively isolated when: subjects are instructed to create images for their concepts rather than find discriminating features, concepts are given unrelated labels, and the categories that are displayed alternate rarely between trials. The entire set of manipulations and measurements supports a graded distinction between isolated and interrelated concepts. The distinction is applied to current models of category learning, and a connectionist framework for interpreting the empirical results is presented.

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