ERIC Number: ED214465
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Mar
Reference Count: 0
The Organization of Medical Disorders in the Memories of Medical Students and General Practitioners.
The applicability of Rosch and coworkers' concept of prototypes to the mental categorization of medical disorders, and the influence of clinical experience on those memory structures were studied with 100 preclinical medical students and 77 experienced physicians from Quebec, Canada. The third-year medical students were French-speaking and read English, and the physicians had 2 to 28 years of experience and practiced in predominantly French-speaking communities. Four experiments based on the Rosch (1975) research strategy were conducted to form a logical and converging sequence of evidence about the internal structure of 14 categories of medical disorders. The experiments investigated category norms, prototypicality ratings, family resemblance, and response time. It was found that the mental representation of the categories was better described by the overlapping feature of the prototype view of categorization than the criterial features of the deterministic view. Overall, the disorders with the highest prototypicality ratings were recalled earlier in a free-recall task than were the less prototypical ones; the higher the mean prototypicality rating of an item, the higher the mean family resemblance score. It took about one-half less time for students and one-third less time for physicians to judge category membership of central disorders as opposed to peripheral ones. Additionally, clinical experience did affect the internal structure of the categories: physicians used a narrower range of points on the prototypicality rating scales. It is suggested that prototypes are valuable in describing the internal structure of medical categories. (SW)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New York, NY, March 23, 1982).