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Title:Thematic relations in adults' concepts and categorization
Author(s):Lin, Emilie Li-Chun
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Murphy, Gregory L.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Developmental
Psychology, Experimental
Psychology, Cognitive
Abstract:Concepts can be interrelated by their similarities according to a taxonomic kind (e.g., animal, furniture) or by their external relations within scenes or events. This latter type of relation, known as the thematic relation, is frequently found to be the basis of children's classification but not adults' (e.g., given $\{$bees, honey, flies$\}$, children would group the bees with the honey but adults would group the bees with the flies). However, this thesis points out the limitations of this conclusion and demonstrates that meaningful, salient thematic relations do have significant effects on various forms of adults' conceptual thinking. Experiments 1-5 showed that whether the stimuli were verbal or pictorial, and whether subjects provided response justifications, they preferred to use thematic rather than taxonomic, similarity-based relations to construct categories 50-70% of the time. Experiments 6 and 7 showed that this preference can be reversed when subjects performed a similarity or difference judgment prior to each category construction. Experiment 8 showed that subjects also preferred to use thematic relations to infer properties like "having bacteria." Finally, Experiment 9 showed that verification of a taxonomic category (e.g., whether CAMEL is an ANIMAL) can be facilitated by the prior activation of a concept thematically related to the target (e.g., DESERT). All these findings suggest that concepts function closely with knowledge of scenes and events, and the role of this knowledge in conceptual representation is a promising area for future research.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Lin, Emilie Li-Chun
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9702584
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9702584

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