The modulating influence of category size on the classification of exception patterns

Donald Homa, Michael J. Proulx, Mark Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Generalization gradients to exception patterns and the category prototype were investigated in two experiments. In Experiment 1, participants first learned categories of large size that contained a single exception pattern, followed by a transfer test containing new instances that had a manipulated similarity relationship to the exception or a nonexception training pattern as well as distortions of the prototype. The results demonstrated transfer gradients tracked the prototype category rather than the feedback category of the exception category. In Experiment 2, transfer performance was investigated for categories varying in size (5, 10, 20), partially crossed with the number of exception patterns (1, 2, 4). Here, the generalization gradients tracked the feedback category of the training instance when category size was small but tracked the prototype category when category size was large. The benefits of increased category size still emerged, even with proportionality of exception patterns held constant. These, and other outcomes, were consistent with a mixed model of classification, in which exemplar influences were dominant with small-sized categories and/or high error rates, and prototype influences were dominant with larger sized categories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-443
Number of pages19
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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