Rule-Plus-Exception Model of Classification Learning

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Abstract

The authors propose a rule-plus-exception model (RULEX) of classification learning. According to RULEX, people learn to classify objects by forming simple logical rules and remembering occasional exceptions to those rules. Because the learning process in RULEX is stochastic, the model predicts that individual Ss will vary greatly in the particular rules that are formed and the exceptions that are stored. Averaged classification data are presumed to represent mixtures of these highly idiosyncratic rules and exceptions. RULEX accounts for numerous fundamental classification phenomena, including prototype and specific exemplar effects, sensitivity to correlational information, difficulty of learning linearly separable versus nonlinearly separable categories, selective attention effects, and difficulty of learning concepts with rules of differing complexity. RULEX also predicts distributions of generalization patterns observed at the individual subject level.

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