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Mem Cognit. 2001 Sep;29(6):828-37.

Putting together prior knowledge, verbal arguments, and observations in category learning.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, England.


Two experiments addressed the novel issue of how people incorporate verbal arguments into category learning. In Experiment 1, at the start of learning, subjects were given verbal arguments, which had an influence equivalent to a fixed number of category members. In Experiment 2, subjects learned under slower paced conditions, and it was found that both prior knowledge and arguments had multiple effects on categorization: a fixed initial influence plus selective weighting of new observations. The results supported the idea that verbally presented arguments can be treated in a similar manner as other forms of prior knowledge, from the perspective of applying models of categorization.

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