Altering object representations through category learning

Goldstone, R. L, Lippa, Y., & Shiffrin, R. M. (2001). Altering object representations through category learning.  Cognition, 78, 27-43.

Previous research has shown that objects that are grouped together in the same category become more similar to each other and that objects that are grouped in different categories become increasingly dissimilar, as measured by similarity ratings and psychophysical discriminations. These findings are consistent with two theories of the influence of concept learning on similarity. By a strategic judgment bias account, the categories associated with objects are explicitly used as cues for determining similarity, and objects that are categorized together are judged to be more similar because similarity is not only a function of the objects themselves, but also the objectsí category labels. By a representational change account, category learning alters the description of the objects themselves, emphasizing properties that are relevant for categorization. A new method for distinguishing between these accounts is introduced which measures the difference between the similarity ratings of categorized objects to a neutral object. The results indicate both strategic biases based on category labels and genuine representational change, with the strategic bias affecting mostly objects belonging to different categories and the representational change affecting mostly objects belonging to the same category.

View This Paper (HTML)
Download PDF version of this paper   (Download free reader from Adobe for this file)