Abstraction in Natural Language Categories


A long lasting debate in research on the fundamental human capacity to categorize, regards the degree of abstraction in the mental category representations of a cognitive agent. In its extremes, this debate translates into the decades-old discussion between advocates of the exemplar view (Nosofsky, 1984) and the prototype view (Minda & Smith, 2001). Recently, a number of models have been developed that go beyond these extremes (Griffiths, Canini, Sanborn, & Navarro 2007; Love Medin & Gureckis, 2004; Rosseel, 2002; Vanpaemel & Storms, 2008). One of them is the Varying Abstraction Model (VAM) proposed by Vanpaemel and Storms (2008) in which a whole range of category representations (including the prototype and exemplar representation) can be tested and compared with one another. In this way, the VAM can be used to quantify the degree of abstraction in artificial categories.

Back to Table of Contents