Category-based predictions: Influence of uncertainty and feature associations

Brian H. Ross, Gregory L. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Four experiments examined how people make inductive inferences using categories. Subjects read stories in which 2 categories were mentioned as possible identities of an object. The less likely category was varied to determine if people were using it, as well as the most likely category, in making predictions about the object. Experiment 1 showed that even when categorization uncertainty was emphasized, subjects used only 1 category as the basis for their prediction. Experiments 2-4 examined whether people would use multiple categories for making predictions when the feature to be predicted was associated to the less likely category. Multiple categories were used in this case, but only in limited circumstances; furthermore, using multiple categories in 1 prediction did not cause subjects to use them for subsequent predictions. The results increase the understanding of how categories are used in inductive inference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)736-753
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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