Learning abstract relations from using categories

Brian H. Ross, Justin L. Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When people learn categories, the importance of the features and relations in the category representation reflects both their diagnosticity for classification and their relevance to the use of the category. In earlier work in which the influence of category use on the representation has been shown, only cases in which the features and relations were simple, observable, and very specific were examined. Learners may begin to understand the underlying similarities of category members by using the categories. In the four experiments presented here, learners applied a simple category-specific formula to category members. The test results showed that the learners had incorporated relations among features from this use, including cases in which the relations were abstract. This learning occurred even though the relations were actually not predictive of category membership but just perceived to be so as a function of the use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-665
Number of pages9
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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