Category coherence and category-based property induction

Bob Rehder, Reid Hastie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One important property of human object categories is that they define the sets of exemplars to which newly observed properties are generalized. We manipulated the causal knowledge associated with novel categories and assessed the resulting strength of property inductions. We found that the theoretical coherence afforded to a category by inter-feature causal relationships strengthened inductive projections. However, this effect depended on the degree to which the exemplar with the to-be-projected predicate manifested or satisfied its category's causal laws. That is, the coherence that supports inductive generalizations is a property of individual category members rather than categories. Moreover, we found that an exemplar's coherence was mediated by its degree of category membership. These results were obtained across a variety of causal network topologies and kinds of categories, including biological kinds, non-living natural kinds, and artifacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-153
Number of pages41
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Categories
  • Category-based property induction
  • Classification
  • Coherence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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