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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2002 Jul;28(4):800-11.

Distinguishing prototype-based and exemplar-based processes in dot-pattern category learning.

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Department of Psychology and Center for Cognitive Science, State University of New York at Buffalo, 14260, USA.


The authors contrast exemplar-based and prototype-based processes in dot-pattern categorization. In Experiments 1A and 1B, participants provided similarity ratings of dot-distortion pairs that were distortions of the same originating prototype. The results show that comparisons to training exemplars surrounding the prototype create flat typicality gradients within a category and small prototype-enhancement effects, whereas comparisons to a prototype center create steep typicality gradients within a category and large prototype-enhancement effects. Thus, prototype and exemplar theories make different predictions regarding common versions of the dot-distortion task. Experiment 2 tested these different predictions by having participants learn dot-pattern categories. The steep typicality gradients, the large prototype effects, and the superior fit of prototype models suggest that participants refer to-be-categorized items to a representation near the category's center (the prototype), and not to the training exemplars that surround the prototype.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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