Memory & Cognition

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 211–227 | Cite as

Ad hoc categories

  • Lawrence W. Barsalou
Open Access
Article
  • 1.9k Downloads

Abstract

People construct ad hoc categories to achieve goals. For example, constructing the category of “things to sell at a garage sale” can be instrumental to achieving the goal of selling unwanted possessions. These categories differ from common categories (e.g., “fruit,” “furniture”) in that ad hoc categories violate the correlational structure of the environment and are not well established in memory. Regarding the latter property, the category concepts, concept-to-instance associations, and instance-to-concept associations structuring ad hoc categories are shown to be much less established in memory than those of common categories. Regardless of these differences, however, ad hoc categories possess graded structures (i.e., typicality gradients) as salient as those structuring common categories. This appears to be the result of a similarity comparison process that imposes graded structure on any category regardless of type.

Reference Note

  1. Ross, B. H., & Barsalou, L. W.Explorations into the nature of the category frequency effect. Work in progress, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbanna, and Emory University. bl]ReferencesGoogle Scholar
  2. Alba, J. W., Chromiak, W., Hasher, L., &Attig, M. S. Automatic encoding of category size information,Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 1980,6, 370–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson, J. R., &Bower, G. H. Human associative memory. Washington, D. C: Winston, 1973.Google Scholar
  4. Barsawu, L. W. Determinants of graded structure in categories. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University, 1981.Google Scholar
  5. Barsalou, L. W. Context-independent and context-dependent information in concepts.Memory & Cognition, 1982,10, 82–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Battig,W. F., & Montague, W. E. Category norms for verbal items in 56 categories: A replication and extension of the Connecticut category norms.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1969,80, (Monograph Supplement 3, Pt. 2).Google Scholar
  7. Bousfield, W. A. The occurrence of clustering in the recall of randomly arranged associates.Journal of General Psychology, 1953,49, 229–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bousfield, W. A., &Cohen, B. H. The effects of reinforcement on the occurrence of clustering in the recall of randomly arranged associates.Journal of Psychology, 1953,36, 67–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bower, G. H., Clark, M. C., Lesgold, A. M., &Winzenz, D. Hierarchical retrieval schemes in recall of categorized word lists.Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1969,8, 323–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark, H. H. The language-as-fixed-effect-fallacy: A critique of language statistics in psychological research.Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1973,12, 335–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cofer, C. N. Does conceptual organization influence the amount retained in immediate free recall. In B. Kleinmuntz (Ed.),Concepts and the structure of memory. New York: Wiley, 1967.Google Scholar
  12. Collins, A. M., &Loftus, E. F. A spreading-activation theory of semantic processing.Psychological Review, 1975,81, 407–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cronbach, L. J. Essentials of psychological testing. New York: Harper & Row, 1970.Google Scholar
  14. Guilford, J. P., &Fruchter, B. Fundamental statistics in psychology and education. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973.Google Scholar
  15. Hall, J. F. Learning as a function of word-frequency.American Journal of Psychology, 1954,67, 138–140.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hayes-Roth, B. Evolution of cognitive structures and processes.Psychological Review, 1977,84, 260–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Horton, M. Category familiarity and taxonomic organization in young children. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University, 1982.Google Scholar
  18. Kučera, H., &Francis, W. N. Computational analysis of present-day English. Providence, R. I: Brown University Press, 1967.Google Scholar
  19. Loftus, E. F. Spreading activation within semantic categories: Comments on Rosch’s “Cognitive representations of semantic categories”.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 1975,104, 234–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lorch, R. F., Jr. Priming and search processes in semantic memory: A test of three models of spreading activation.Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1982,11, 468–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mandler, G. Organization and memory. In K. W. Spence & J. T. Spence (Eds.),The psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 1). New York: Academic Press, 1967.Google Scholar
  22. Mandler, G., Pearlstone, Z., &Koopmans, H. S. Effects of organization and semantic similarity on recall and recognition.Journal of Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1969,8, 410–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McCloskey, M., &Glucksberg, S. Natural categories: Well defined or fuzzy sets?Memory & Cognition, 1978,6, 462–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McCloskey, M., &Glucksberg, S. Decision processes in verifying category membership statements: Implications for models of semantic memory.Cognitive Psychology, 1979,11, 1–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mervis, C. B., Catlin, J., &Rosch, E. Relationships among goodness-of-example, category norms, and word frequency.Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 1976,7, 283–294.Google Scholar
  26. Mervis, C. B., &Rosch, E. Categorization of natural objects.Annual Review of Psychology, 1981,31, 89–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ortony, A. Beyond literal similarity.Psychological Review, 1979,86, 161–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Puff, C. R. Role of clustering in free recall.Journal of experimental Psychology, 1970,86, 384–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ratcliff, R., &McKoon, G. Does activation really spread?Psychological Review, 1981,88, 454–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rips, L. J., Shoben, E. J., &Smith, E. E. Semantic distance and the verification of semantic relations.Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1973,11, 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rosch, E. H. On the internal structure of perceptual and semantic categories. In T. E. Moore (Ed.),Cognitive development and the acquisition of language. New York: Academic Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  32. Rosch, E. H. Cognitive representations of semantic categories.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 1975,104, 192–233. (a)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rosch, E. H. The nature of mental codes for color categories.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 1975,1, 303–322. (b)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rosch, E. H. Reply to Loftus.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 1975,104, 241–243. (c)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rosch, E. H., &Mervis, C. B. Family resemblances: Studies in the internal structure of categories.Cognitive Psychology, 1975,7, 573–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rosch, E. H., Mervis, C. B., Gray, W. D., Johnson, D. M., &Boyes-Braem, P. Basic objects in natural categories.Cognitive Psychology, 1976,8, 382–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rosch, E. R., Simpson, C., &Miller, R. S. Structural bases of typicality effects.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 1976,1, 491–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Smith, E. E., &Medin, D. Categories and concepts. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1981.Google Scholar
  39. Smith, E. E., Shoben, E. J., &Rips, L. J. Structure and process in semantic memory: A featural model for semantic decisions.Psychological Review, 1974,81, 214–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tulving, E. Subjective organization in free recall of “unrelated” words.Psychological Review, 1962,69, 344–354.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tulving, E., &Pearlstone, Z. Availability versus accessibility of information in memory for words.Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1966,5, 381–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tversky, A. Features of similarity.Psychological Review, 1977,84, 327–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Winer, B. J. Statistical principles in experimental design. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971.Google Scholar
  44. Zadeh, L. A. Fuzzy sets.Information and Control, 1965,8, 338–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence W. Barsalou
    • 1
  1. 1.Emory UniversityAtlanta

Personalised recommendations