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Classification (cognitive process)

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This article is on the cognitive process for more general discussion and philosophy see Categorization

Classification or is the cognitive process in which ideas and objects are recognised, differentiated and understood. Classification implies that objects are grouped into categories, usually for some specific purpose. Ideally, a category illuminates a relationship between the subjects and objects of knowledge. Categorization is fundamental in decision making and in all kinds of interaction with the environment. There are, however, different ways of approaching categorization.

Cognitive science viewEdit

In recent years categorization has moved from an area of philosophical speculation towards an area of cognitive scientific study. A number of testable theories have been generated and experimental progress has been made.

Prototype theoryEdit

Main article: Prototype Theory

Since the research by Eleanor Rosch and George Lakoff in the 1970s, categorization can also be viewed as the process of grouping things based on prototypes - the idea of necessary and sufficient conditions is almost never met in categories of naturally occurring things. It has also been suggested that categorisation based on prototypes is the basis for human development, and that this learning relies on learning about the world via embodiment.

Defining-attribute TheoryEdit

Exemplar based theoryEdit

A cognitive approach accepts that natural categories are graded (they tend to be fuzzy at their boundaries) and inconsistent in the status of their constituent members.

Systems of categories are not objectively "out there" in the world but are rooted in people's experience. Conceptual categories are not identical for different cultures, or indeed, for every individual in the same culture.

Categories form part of a hierarchical structure when applied to such subjects as taxonomy in biological classification: higher level: life-form level, middle level: generic or genus level, and lower level: the species level. These can be distinguished by certain traits that put an item in its distinctive category. But even these can be arbitrary and are subject to revision.

Categories at the middle level are perceptually and conceptually the more salient. The generic level of a category tends to elicit the most responses and richest images and seems to be the psychologically basic level. Typical taxonomies in zoology for example exhibit categorisation at the embodied level, with similarities leading to formulation of "higher" categories, and differences leading to differentiation within categories.

See also Edit

References & BibliographyEdit

Key textsEdit

BooksEdit

Rosch, E., & Lloyd, B. B. (Eds.) (1978), Cognition and categorization. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

PapersEdit

Categories and Induction ]

  • Mervis, C. B., & Rosch, E. (1981). Categorization of natural objects. In M. R. Rosenzweig & L. W. Porter (Eds.), Annual Review of Psychology (Vol. 32).
  • Rosch, E. (1978). Principles of categorization. In E. Rosch & B. B. Lloyd (Eds.), Cognition and categorization. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Reprinted in: Margolis, E. and Laurence, S. (Eds.) (1999). Concepts: Core readings. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Rosch, E. (1977). Human categorization. In N. Warren (Ed.), Advances in cross-cultural psychology (Vol. 1). London: Academic Press.

Mervis, C. & Rosch E. (1981). Categorization of Natural Objects. Annual Review of Psychology, 32: 89-113. Annual Reviews, Inc.

  • Rosch, E., Mervis, C. B., Gray, W., Johnson, D., & Boyes-Braem, P. (1976). Basic objects in natural categories. Cognitive Psychology, 8, 382-439
  • Rosch, E., & Mervis, C. B. (1975). Family resemblances: Studies in the internal structure of categories. Cognitive Psychology, 7, 573-605.


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