(Category) Learning by Doing: How Goal Directed Tasks Constrain Conceptual Acquisition


The current study explores conceptual acquisition that occurs as the result of completing a task in a novel domain. The items encountered in the domain were complex in that there were multiple sources of information that might be used to organize conceptual knowledge related to the domain. I test the hypothesis that goal-directed interactions will constrain the acquisition of knowledge such that functional categories of the items, organized around goal-relevant features, are learned. Converging evidence from two measures provided strong support for the idea that participants organized their knowledge of the domain in terms of goal-relevant features, and the conceptual organization was able to support both the completion of the task and subsequent categorization tasks.

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