Array training in a categorization task

Homa, D., Powell, D., & Ferguson, R. (2013). Array training in a categorization task. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67(1), 45-59.


Two components of categorization, within-category commonalities and between-category distinctive- ness, were investigated in a categorization task. Subjects learned three prototype categories composed of moderately high distortions, by observing arrays containing patterns that belonged either to a common prototype category or to three different categories; a third group learned patterns presented one at a time, mirroring the standard paradigm. Following 6 learning blocks, subjects transferred to old patterns and new patterns at low-, medium-, and high-level distortions of the category prototype. The results showed that array training facilitated learning, especially when patterns in the array belonged to the same category. Transfer results showed a strong gradient effect across pattern distortion level for all con- ditions, with the highest performance obtained following array training on different category patterns and worst in the control condition. Interestingly, the old training patterns were classified worse than new low and no better than medium distortions. Neither this ordering nor the steepness of the gradient across prototype similarity for each condition could be predicted by the generalized context model. A prototype model better captured the steep gradient and ordinal pattern of results, although the overall fits were only slightly better than the exemplar model. The crucial role played by category commonalities and distinctiveness on categorical representations is addressed.

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