Cross-cultural similarities in category structure

Thinking and Reasoning 10 (3):273 – 287 (2004)

Abstract
Categories, as mental structures, are more than simply sums of property frequencies. A number of recent studies have supported the view that the properties of categories may be organised along functional lines and possibly dependency structures more generally. The study presented here investigates whether earlier findings reflect something unique in the English language/North American culture or whether the functional structuring of categories is a more universal phenomenon. A population of English-speaking Americans was compared to a population of Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong Chinese. The findings clearly support the view that functional influences on category centrality are universal (or at least common to Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong Chinese and English-speaking Americans), albeit with specific cross-cultural/cross-linguistic group differences in the particular properties that are considered central to categories.
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DOI 10.1080/13546780442000097
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