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Idealness and similarity in goal-derived categories: A computational examination

Authors
  • Voorspoels, Wouter1
  • Storms, Gert1
  • Vanpaemel, Wolf1
  • 1 University of Leuven, Department of Psychology, Tiensestraat 102, Leuven, 3000, Belgium , Leuven (Belgium)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Memory & Cognition
Publisher
Springer - Psychonomic Society
Publication Date
Sep 13, 2012
Volume
41
Issue
2
Pages
312–327
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3758/s13421-012-0252-y
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
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Abstract

The finding that the typicality gradient in goal-derived categories is mainly driven by ideals rather than by exemplar similarity has stood uncontested for nearly three decades. Due to the rather rigid earlier implementations of similarity, a key question has remained—that is, whether a more flexible approach to similarity would alter the conclusions. In the present study, we evaluated whether a similarity-based approach that allows for dimensional weighting could account for findings in goal-derived categories. To this end, we compared a computational model of exemplar similarity (the generalized context model; Nosofsky, Journal of Experimental Psychology. General 115:39–57, 1986) and a computational model of ideal representation (the ideal-dimension model; Voorspoels, Vanpaemel, & Storms, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 18:1006-114, 2011) in their accounts of exemplar typicality in ten goal-derived categories. In terms of both goodness-of-fit and generalizability, we found strong evidence for an ideal approach in nearly all categories. We conclude that focusing on a limited set of features is necessary but not sufficient to account for the observed typicality gradient. A second aspect of ideal representations—that is, that extreme rather than common, central-tendency values drive typicality—seems to be crucial.

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