Family resemblances: Studies in the internal structure of categories

Cognitive Psychology 7 (4):573--605 (1975)

Six experiments explored the hypothesis that the members of categories which are considered most prototypical are those with most attributes in common with other members of the category and least attributes in common with other categories. In probabilistic terms, the hypothesis is that prototypicality is a function of the total cue validity of the attributes of items. In Experiments 1 and 3, subjects listed attributes for members of semantic categories which had been previously rated for degree of prototypicality. High positive correlations were obtained between those ratings and the extent of distribution of an item's attributes among the other items of the category. In Experiments 2 and 4, subjects listed superordinates of category members and listed attributes of members of contrasting categories. Negative correlations were obtained between prototypicality and superordinates other than the category in question and between prototypicality and an item's possession of attributes possessed by members of contrasting categories. Experiments 5 and 6 used artificial categories and showed that family resemblance within categories and lack of overlap of elements with contrasting categories were correlated with ease of learning, reaction time in identifying an item after learning, and rating of prototypicality of an item. It is argued that family resemblance offers an alternative to criterial features in defining categories.
Keywords concepts family resemblance
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The Plurality of Concepts.Daniel A. Weiskopf - 2009 - Synthese 169 (1):145-173.

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