Categorizing Objects in Isolation and in Scenes

What a Superordinate Is Good For

Gregory Murphy, Edward J. Wisniewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Many studies have shown that subjects are faster at categorizing objects into "basic" concepts than into more general superordinate concepts. However, all of these studies have used a categorization task in which single, isolated objects are identified. There is good reason to believe that superordinate concepts are typically used to refer to collections of objects rather than to individual objects. For example, people more often use the term furniture to refer to a number of pieces of furniture rather than to name a single piece. This suggests that superordinate concepts include information about multiple objects and their common relations, particularly the typical scenes in which such objects appear. Four experiments examined this possibility by investigating whether the basic concept advantage will decrease or reverse itself when subjects are asked to catergorize an object as part of a scene. The results showed that the basic-superordinate difference did decrease when subjects categorized objects in scenes. Furthermore, when an object was placed in an inappropriate scene, there was more interference for superordinate identifications. The results suggest qualitative differences in the representations of superordinate and basic concepts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)572-586
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Volume15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1989

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Interior Design and Furnishings
social isolation
Names
basic concept
Isolation
interference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Cite this

Categorizing Objects in Isolation and in Scenes : What a Superordinate Is Good For. / Murphy, Gregory; Wisniewski, Edward J.

In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition, Vol. 15, No. 4, 07.1989, p. 572-586.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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