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    Similarity chains in the transformational paradigm

    Pothos, E.M. and Hahn, Ulrike and Prat-Sala, M. (2009) Similarity chains in the transformational paradigm. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology 21 (7), pp. 1100-1120. ISSN 0954-1446.

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    Rips’ (1989) results with the transformational paradigm have often been cited as supporting accounts of categorisation not based on similarity, such as involving necessary or sufficient features (or a belief in such features), which guarantee a categorisation outcome once their presence has been established. We discuss a similarity account of the transformational paradigm based on similarity chains, which predicts that when the transformation is more gradual the identity of the transformed object is less likely to change. Conversely, we suggest that an essentialist approach to categorisation predicts that essences are more likely to change in gradual transformations, across generations, as is the case with evolutionary change of species. In two experiments we examined the scope of the similarity versus the essentialist account in the transformational paradigm. With space aliens, the similarity account was superior to the essentialist one, but the converse was true with earth creatures. We suggest that an essentialist mode of categorisation is more likely than a similarity one for stimuli that are in better correspondence with our naïve understanding of the world.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Categorisation, Critical features, Essentialism, General knowledge
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Birkbeck Knowledge Lab
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 09 May 2013 09:14
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:03


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