Category breadth and the abstraction of prototypical information

Donald Homa, Richard Vosburgh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Studied the abstraction of prototypical information and the development of category breadth or categories defined by low-level distortions from the prototype or by a mixing of distortion levels, using 72 undergraduates. In the uniform-low condition, low-level distortions were classified into 3 categories containing 3, 6, and 9 stimuli; in the mixed condition, an equal number of stimuli at each of 3 distortion levels was classified into categories of sizes 3, 6, and 9. Subsequent transfer to old, new and prototype stimuli was investigated immediately and after delays of 1 and 10 wks. The degree of positive transfer to new instances interacted with category size such that a mixing of distortions resulted in superior transfer for the categories defined by a larger number of stimuli; transfer was greater for the uniform-low condition only when the category was defined by 3 instances. The influence of category size was maintaind across the 10-wk delay for the mixed condition, and, overall, the mixed categories tended to resist deterioration following long delays better than categories defined by low-level distortions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-330
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 1976


  • category size &
  • low-level distortion from prototype or mixed categories, transfer to old &
  • new &
  • prototype stimuli, college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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