Perceptual and Conceptual Cues in Classification and Inference Tasks


We are able to use many types of information available in the environment when categorizing or making inferences. This research explores how two types of information—perceptual and conceptual—may be used to different extents in different tasks. The method takes advantage of the distinction between animate and artifact categories. In two experiments, adult participants were given perceptual and conceptual information about the animacy of novel categories, and then were tested on three tasks. Participants categorized items by classifying with a given novel name, with a given fact, or by inferring untrained facts about the items. Results showed that participants used different sources of information depending on the task. These results are discussed in terms of how they could add to an account of the mechanisms of categorization.

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