Attribute conjunctions and the part configuration advantage in object category learning

Jun Saiki, John E. Hummel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Five experiments demonstrated that in object category learning people are particularly sensitive to conjunctions of part shapes and relative locations. Participants learned categories defined by a part's shape and color (part-color conjunctions) or by a part's shape and its location relative to another part (part-location conjunctions). The statistical properties of the categories were identical across these conditions, as were the salience of color and relative location. Participants were better at classifying objects defined by part-location conjunctions than objects defined by part-color conjunctions. Subsequent experiments revealed that this effect was not due to the specific color manipulation or the role of location per se. These results suggest that the shape bias in object categorization is at least partly due to sensitivity to part-location conjunctions and suggest a new processing constraint on category learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1002-1019
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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