Thematic relations in adults' concepts

Emilie L. Lin, Gregory L. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concepts can be organized by their members' similarities, forming a kind (e.g., animal), or by their external relations within scenes or events (e.g., cake and candles). This latter type of relation, known as the thematic relation, is frequently found to be the basis of children's but not adults' classification. However, 10 experiments found that when thematic relations are meaningful and salient, they have significant influence on adults' category construction (sorting), inductive reasoning, and verification of category membership. The authors conclude that concepts function closely with knowledge of scenes and events and that this knowledge has a role in adults' conceptual representations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-28
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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