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Title: Comparing comparisons in category learning
Author(s): Higgins, Erin
Director of Research: Ross, Brian H.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Ross, Brian H.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Benjamin, Aaron S.; Cimpian, Andrei; Federmeier, Kara D.; Hummel, John E.
Department / Program: Psychology
Discipline: Psychology
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): cognitive psychology
category learning and use
comparisons
Abstract: Comparisons are central to category learning; yet very little research has been done to understand how comparisons affect what people learn. Prior work has established that different ways of learning affect what information learners acquire, suggesting that different types of comparisons may also affect learning in different ways. An important comparison-type distinction in category learning is between-category versus within-category comparisons. This paper draws on research from other domains that have looked at the role of comparisons in cognitive processes; however, the results of these studies are mixed, so it remains unclear how each type of comparison affects learning. Here, the highlighter theory of comparison learning is proposed based on the idea that studies showing a benefit for one type of comparison or the other are similar and different in systematic ways. Specifically, between-category comparisons highlight distinguishing information between categories while within-category comparisons highlight commonalities and the relational structure of items. In five experiments, one type of comparison or the other is shown to lead to higher classification performance at test and the effects of each depend on the type of information that needs to be emphasized during learning.
Issue Date: 2012-05-22
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/30966
Rights Information: Copyright 2012, Erin Jones Higgins
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-05-22
Date Deposited: 2012-05


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