The effects of category use on learned categories

Brian H. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Frequently, people learn to classify instances of a concept and later learn additional information about the concept. What is the effect of this later learning on the original classification? In five experiments, this issue was investigated with a common classification paradigm in which symptom sets were classified into disease categories. After learning to classify these sets, the subjects learned to use the category to decide what treatment should be given for a symptom set. The symptoms that were important for the treatments were later classified by disease more accurately and were generated earlier from the disease name. However, this effect occurred only if the category representation was activated during the learning of the treatments. Thus, later learning about a particular use of the concept can sometimes affect the original classification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-63
Number of pages13
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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