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Perception. 1993;22(4):463-75.

Evidence for representations of perceptually similar natural categories by 3-month-old and 4-month-old infants.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, PA 15301.


The paired-preference procedure was used in a series of experiments to explore the abilities of infants aged 3 and 4 months to categorize photographic exemplars from natural (adult-defined) basic-level categories. The question of whether the categorical representations that were evidenced excluded members of a related, perceptually similar category was also investigated. Experiments 1-3 revealed that infants could form categorical representations for dogs and cats that excluded birds. Experiment 4 showed that the representation for cats also excluded dogs, but that the representation for dogs did not exclude cats. However, a supplementary experiment showed that the representation for dogs did exclude cats when the variability of the dog exemplars was reduced to match that of the cat exemplars. The results are discussed in terms of abilities necessary for the formation of more complex categorical representations.

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