Instantiated Features and the Use of “Rules”

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Classification “rules” in expert and everyday discourse are usually deficient by formal standards, lacking explicit decision procedures and precise terms. The authors argue that a central function of such weak rules is to focus on perceptual learning rather than to provide definitions. In 5 experiments, transfer following learning of family resemblance categories was influenced more by familiar-appearing features than by novel-appearing features equally acceptable under the rule. This occurred both when rules were induced and when rules were given at the beginning of instruction. To model this and other phenomena in categorization, features must be represented on 2 levels: informational and instantiated. These 2 feature levels are crucial to provide broad generalization while reflecting the known peculiarities of a complex world.

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