Category vs. object knowledge in category-based induction

Gregory L. Murphy, Brian H. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In one form of category-based induction, people make predictions about unknown properties of objects. There is a tension between predictions made based on the object's specific features (e.g., objects above a certain size tend not to fly) and those made by reference to category-level knowledge (e.g., birds fly). Seven experiments with artificial categories investigated these two sources of induction by looking at whether people used information about correlated features within categories, suggesting that they focused on feature-feature relations rather than summary categorical information. The results showed that people relied heavily on such correlations, even when there was no reason to think that the correlations exist in the population. The results suggested that people's use of this strategy is largely unreflective, rather than strategically chosen. These findings have important implications for models of category-based induction, which generally ignore feature-feature relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Category-based induction
  • Concepts
  • Induction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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