As easy to memorize as they are to classify: The 5-4 categories and the category advantage

Mark Blair, Donald Homa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Recently, it has been suggested that some categories commonly used in category learning research are eliciting primarily item-level memorization strategies. A new measure of generalization, the category advantage, was introduced and used to test performance on the popular "5-4" categories. To estimate a category advantage, performance on a standard category learning task is compared with performance in an identification task, where participants learn a unique response to each stimulus. Once corrected for differences in chance expectancy, the advantage shown for the category learning task represents the degree to which participants capitalize on the natural similarity structure of the categories. In Experiment 1, the category advantage measure was validated on structured and unstructured categories. In Experiments 2 and 3, the 5-4 categories failed to produce a category advantage when tested with either of two stimulus types, suggesting that these categories elicit predominantly memorization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1293-1301
Number of pages9
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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