Induction and category coherence

Mary E. Lassaline, Gregory L. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In studies of category formation, subjects rarely construct family resemblance categories. Instead, they divide objects into categories using a single dimension. This is a puzzling result given the widely accepted view that natural categories are organized in terms of a family resemblance principle. The observation that natural categories support inductive inferences is used here to test the hypothesis that family resemblance categories would be constructed if stimuli were first used to generate inductive inferences. In two experiments, subjects answered either induction questions, which made interproperty relationships more salient, or frequency questions, which required information only about individual properties, before they performed a sorting task. Subjects were likely to produce family resemblance sorts if they had first answered induction questions but not if they had answered frequency questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-99
Number of pages5
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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