Generalizing from simple instances: An uncomplicated lesson from kids learning objects categories

Son, J. Y., Smith, L. B., & Goldstone, R. L. (2006). Generalizing from simple instances: An uncomplicated lesson from kids learning objects categories. Proceedings of the Twenty-eighth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (2174-2179)

Abstraction is the process of stripping away irrelevant information so that learners can generalize on relevant similarities. Can we shortcut this process by directly teaching abstractions in the form of simplified instances? We tested this prediction in the domain of shape-based generalization and found that young children were able to generalize better when taught with simplified shapes rather than complex detailed ones. Simplicity during training allowed shape novices to generalize like shape experts.

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