Structural constraints and object similarity in analogical mapping and inference

Thinking and Reasoning 10 (1):85 – 104 (2004)
Theories of analogical reasoning have viewed relational structure as the dominant determinant of analogical mapping and inference, while assigning lesser importance to similarity between individual objects. An experiment is reported in which these two sources of constraints on analogy are placed in competition under conditions of high relational complexity. Results demonstrate equal importance for relational structure and object similarity, both in analogical mapping and in inference generation. The human data were successfully simulated using a computational analogy model (LISA) that treats both relational correspondences and object similarity as soft constraints that operate within a limited-capacity working memory; but not with a model (SME) that treats relational structure as pre-eminent.
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