Do Americans Have a Preference for Rule‐Based Classification?

Cognitive Science:2026-2052 (2017)
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Six experiments investigated variables predicted to influence subjects’ tendency to classify items by a single property instead of overall similarity, following the paradigm of Norenzayan et al., who found that European Americans tended to give more “logical” rule-based responses. However, in five experiments with Mechanical Turk subjects and undergraduates at an American university, we found a consistent preference for similarity-based responding. A sixth experiment with Korean undergraduates revealed an effect of instructions, also reported by Norenzayan et al., in which classification instructions led to majority rule-based responding but similarity instructions led to overall similarity grouping. Our American subjects showed no such difference and used similarity more overall. We conclude that Americans do not have a preference for rule responding in classification and discuss the differences between tasks that reliably show strong rule or unidimensional preferences in contrast to this classification paradigm.



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