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Ad hoc category restructuring.

Authors
  • Little, Daniel R
  • Lewandowsky, Stephan
  • Heit, Evan
Type
Published Article
Journal
Memory & cognition
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2006
Volume
34
Issue
7
Pages
1398–1413
Identifiers
PMID: 17263065
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Participants learned to classify seemingly arbitrary words into categories that also corresponded to ad hoc categories (see, e.g., Barsalou, 1983). By adapting experimental mechanisms previously used to study knowledge restructuring in perceptual categorization, we provide a novel account of how experimental and preexperimental knowledge interact. Participants were told of the existence of the ad hoc categories either at the beginning or the end of training. When the ad hoc labels were revealed at the end of training, participants switched from categorization based on experimental learning to categorization based on preexperimental knowledge in some, but not all, circumstances. Important mediators of the extent of that switch were the amount of performance error experienced during prior learning and whether or not prior knowledge was in conflict with experimental learning. We present a computational model of the trade-off between preexperimental knowledge and experimental learning that accounts for the main results.

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