It is common to describe two main theories of concepts: prototype theories, which rely on some form of summary description of a category, and exemplar theories, which claim that concepts are represented as remembered category instances. This article reviews a number of important phenomena in the psychology of concepts, arguing that they have no proposed exemplar explanation. In some of these cases, it is difficult to see how an exemplar theory would be adequate. The article concludes that exemplars are certainly important in some categorization judgments and in category-learning experiments, but that there is no exemplar theory of human concepts in a broad sense.
- Semantic memory
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)