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Title:Alignability and Prior Knowledge in Category Learning
Author(s):Kaplan, Audrey Susan
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Murphy, Gregory L.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Experimental
Abstract:This thesis is concerned with the roles of structural alignment and prior knowledge in category learning. Structural alignment (Gentner, 1983, 1989) is a theory that claims that similarity comparisons entail a process of aligning the components of the things being compared, determining what corresponds to what. The experiments presented here explore the implications of this view of similarity for category learning. Many theories of category leaning (e.g., Medin & Schaffer, 1978) argue that categories are easy to learn to the extent that they have low between-category similarity and high within-category similarity. Experiments 1 and 1a assessed the within- and between-category similarity characteristics for pairs of alignable and nonalignable categories. Experiment 2 then compared the learning of these two category types. A dissociation between similarity and categorization was observed whereby alignable categories were easier to learn than nonalignable categories despite having an identical similarity profile. Experiment 3 expanded on this result by showing an alignability advantage for categories that contained both alignable and nonalignable features, but in which only one of these kinds of features was predictive of category membership. Experiments 4 and 5 began to explore whether alignability helps category learning when the categories can be related to prior knowledge. The results suggested that alignable features and features related to prior knowledge may compete for attention in category learning. The General Discussion proposes that alignability effects may be due to increased attention allocated to alignable over nonalignable features.
Issue Date:1999
Description:111 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1999.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9953059
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:1999

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