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Mem Cognit. 1999 Nov;27(6):1008-23.

Effect of causal structure on category construction.

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Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37240, USA.


In four experiments, the question of how the causal structure of features affects the creation of new categories was examined. Features of exemplars to be sorted were related in a single causal chain (causal chain), were caused by the same factor (common cause), or caused the same effect (common effect). The results showed that people are more likely to rely on common-cause or common-effect background knowledge than on causal-chain background knowledge in category construction. Such preferences suggest that the common-cause or the common-effect structures are considered more natural conceptual structures.

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