Everyday Sound Categorization

  • Catherine Guastavino


This chapter reviews theories and empirical research on the ways in which people spontaneously and effortlessly categorize sounds into meaningful categories to make sense of their environment. We begin with an overview of prominent theories of categorization in the psychological literature, followed by data collection and analysis methods used in empirical research on categorization with human participants. We then focus on auditory categorization, synthesizing the main findings of studies on isolated sound events as well as complex sound scenes. Finally, we review recently proposed taxonomies for everyday sounds and conclude by providing directions for integrating insights from cognitive psychology into the design and evaluation of computational systems.


Everyday sounds Categorization Cognitive psychology Soundscape Prototype theory Linguistic labelling Similarity Taxonomies Holistic perception Top-down processes Context 



Dan Ellis, Tuomas Virtanen, Mark Plumbley, Guillaume Lemaitre, Julian Rice, Christopher Trudeau and Daniel Steele for insightful comments on previous versions of this chapter.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Information StudiesMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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