Classification Style Differences in the Elderly
Bruner’s (1966) suggestion that categorization skills are basic to a number of other cognitive operations—for example, concept formation, memory, problem solving—has been actively pursued in research with children (see Kagan & Kogan, 1970, for a review). Several recent studies have gone on to compare the classification skills of elderly persons with those of young adults (e.g., Cicirelli, 1976; Denney, 1974; Denney & Denney, 1973; Denney & Lennon, 1972; Kogan, 1974). Almost all have reported a diminished use among the elderly of classification based on conceptual category membership and an increase with age in the number of groupings in which there was no obvious similarity in the objects grouped together. These results have proceeded typically from a paradigm in which subjects are given only one opportunity to sort display material (geometric figures or pictures of familiar objects) into as many groupings as suggest themselves, but with the constraint that no single item can appear in more than one grouping.
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