Effects of Background Knowledge on Object Categorization and Part Detection

Emilie L. Lin, Gregory L. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has shown that background knowledge affects the ease of concept learning, but little research has examined its effects on speeded categorization of instances after the category is well learned. Subjects in 4 experiments first learned novel categories. At test, they categorized a new set of novel stimuli that were either consistent or inconsistent with background knowledge given about the categories. Background knowledge affected categorization responses in an untimed task, with usual reaction time instructions, with a response deadline, or when the stimuli were presented for 50 ms followed by a mask. Three other experiments using a part-detection task showed that subjects were more likely to notice missing parts that were critical than noncritical according to background knowledge. The mechanisms by which background knowledge affects categorization and part detection are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1153-1169
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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