Processes of Overall Similarity Sorting in Free Classification

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Abstract

The processes of overall similarity sorting were investigated in 5 free classification experiments. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrated that increasing time pressure can reduce the likelihood of overall similarity categorization. Experiment 3 showed that a concurrent load also reduced overall similarity sorting. These findings suggest that overall similarity sorting can be a time-consuming analytic process. Such results appear contrary to the idea that overall similarity is a nonanalytic process (e.g., T. B. Ward, 1983) but are in line with F. N. Milton and A. J. Wills's (2004) dimensional summation hypothesis and with the stochastic sampling assumptions of the extended generalized context model (K. Lamberts, 2000). Experiments 4 and 5 demonstrated that the relationship between stimulus presentation time and overall similarity sorting is nonmonotonic, and the shape of the function is consistent with the idea that the three aforementioned processes operate over different parts of the time course.

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