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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2003 Nov;29(6):1160-73.

Prototype and exemplar accounts of category learning and attentional allocation: a reassessment.

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Department of Psychology, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA.


In a recent article. J. P. Minda and J. D. Smith (2002; see record 2002-00620-002) argued that an exemplar model provided worse quantitative fits than an alternative prototype model to individual subject data from the classic D. L. Medin and M. M. Schaffer (1978) 5/4 categorization paradigm. In addition, they argued that the exemplar model achieved its fits by making untenable assumptions regarding how observers distribute their attention. In this article, we demonstrate that when the models are equated in terms of their response-rule flexibility, the exemplar model provides a substantially better account of the categorization data than does a prototype or mixed model. In addition, we point to shortcomings in the attention-allocation analyses conducted by J. P. Minda and J. D. Smith (2002). When these shortcomings are corrected, we find no evidence that challenges the attention-allocation assumptions of the exemplar model.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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