Intensional and extensional analogy items: Differences in performance as a function of academic major and sex

Roger Chaffin, Leslie Peirce, Isaac Bejar

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Is there a relationship between academic field and ability to use different types of semantic relation? Performance on two types of analogy item in the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test was compared. Intensional relations are inherent in the meanings of the words and are based on shared or contrasting properties (e. g. farmer:person, breeze:gale, alive: dead, beggar: poor). Extensional relations reflect empirical relations between things in the world and are based on contiguity or causality (e. g.farmer:tractor, road:sidewalk, flu:headache). Performance on the two kinds of analogy items was compared for a single administration of the GRE for English and History majors (verbal group, n = 2238) and electrical engineering, computer science, and mathematics majors (practical group, n = 2143). The verbal group did better on intensional, and the practical group did better on extensional analogies. The difference was not explained by a correlated gender difference by which women did better on intensional and men did better on extensional items. Thus differences in the ability to use intensional and extensional relations was related to academic training, although the direction of this relationship was not established.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)461-470
    Number of pages10
    JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - 1990

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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