Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 23–46

A taxonomy of inductive problems

Theoretical Review


Inductive inferences about objects, features, categories, and relations have been studied for many years, but there are few attempts to chart the range of inductive problems that humans are able to solve. We present a taxonomy of inductive problems that helps to clarify the relationships between familiar inductive problems such as generalization, categorization, and identification, and that introduces new inductive problems for psychological investigation. Our taxonomy is founded on the idea that semantic knowledge is organized into systems of objects, features, categories, and relations, and we attempt to characterize all of the inductive problems that can arise when these systems are partially observed. Recent studies have begun to address some of the new problems in our taxonomy, and future work should aim to develop unified theories of inductive reasoning that explain how people solve all of the problems in the taxonomy.


Induction Semantic cognition Generalization Categorization Discovery Identification Reasoning 


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© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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