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ERIC Number: EJ1008775
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Mar
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 57
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Human Learning of Elemental Category Structures: Revising the Classic Result of Shepard, Hovland, and Jenkins (1961)
Kurtz, Kenneth J.; Levering, Kimery R.; Stanton, Roger D.; Romero, Joshua; Morris, Steven N.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v39 n2 p552-572 Mar 2013
The findings of Shepard, Hovland, and Jenkins (1961) on the relative ease of learning 6 elemental types of 2-way classifications have been deeply influential 2 times over: 1st, as a rebuke to pure stimulus generalization accounts, and again as the leading benchmark for evaluating formal models of human category learning. The litmus test for models is the ability to simulate an observed advantage in learning a category structure based on an exclusive-or (XOR) rule over 2 relevant dimensions (Type II) relative to category structures that have no perfectly predictive cue or cue combination (including the linearly-separable Type IV). However, a review of the literature reveals that a Type II advantage over Type IV is found only under highly specific experimental conditions. We investigate when and why a Type II advantage exists to determine the appropriate benchmark for models and the psychological theories they represent. A series of 8 experiments link particular conditions of learning to outcomes ranging from a traditional Type II advantage to compelling non-differences and reversals (i.e., Type IV advantage). Common interpretations of the Type II advantage as either a broad-based phenomenon of human learning or as strong evidence for an attention-mediated similarity-based account are called into question by our findings. Finally, a role for verbalization in the category learning process is supported. (Contains 3 tables, 8 figures and 2 footnotes.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maryland; New York