Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 938–944 | Cite as

The role of similarity in deductive categorical inference

  • Dustin P. Calvillo
  • Russell Revlin
Brief Reports


The category inclusion rule specifies that categories inherit the properties of their superordinates. For example, given thatall metals are pentavalent, it can be concluded thatall iron is pentavalent. Sloman (1998) showed that people do not fully endorse conclusions that follow from the category inclusion rule. He claims that people rely on the similarity between the premise and the conclusion categories (metals andiron), rather than applying the category inclusion rule. By allowing reasoners to rate their certainty for category relations (e.g.,iron is metal), as well as for conclusions, the present study shows that similarity has only an indirect effect on the certainty of conclusions: Reasoners are more certain that similar categories have a category inclusion relation, and this in turn affects the certainty of conclusions based on this relation.


Conditional Probability Natural Kind Similar Item Probability Rating Categorical Inference 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta Barbara

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