Overcoming default categorical bias in spatial memory

Cristina Sampaio, Ranxiao Frances Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the present study, we investigated whether a strong default categorical bias can be overcome in spatial memory by using alternative membership information. In three experiments, we tested location memory in a circular space while providing participants with an alternative categorization. We found that visual presentation of the boundaries of the alternative categories (Experiment 1) did not induce the use of the alternative categories in estimation. In contrast, visual cuing of the alternative category membership of a target (Experiment 2) and unique target feature information associated with each alternative category (Experiment 3) successfully led to the use of the alternative categories in estimation. Taken together, the results indicate that default categorical bias in spatial memory can be overcome when appropriate cues are provided. We discuss how these findings expand the category adjustment model (Huttenlocher, Hedges, & Duncan, 1991) in spatial memory by proposing a retrieval-based category adjustment (RCA) model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1041-1048
Number of pages8
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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