Sequential similarity and comparison effects in category learning


Order effects in category learning have been previously demonstrated. Specifically, alternation between exemplars of two categories has been shown to improve category learning and discrimination, compared to presenting exemplars of each category in separate blocks. However, the mechanisms underlying order effects are still not completely known. Remaining issues pertain to the relevance of within and between category similarities, and the role of comparing sequentially presented objects. We present two experiments: in Experiment 1 within- and between-category similarity are manipulated simultaneously with presentation schedule. In Experiment 2, alternation between categories is compared to two blocked conditions: one in which very similar stimuli are presented successively, and another in which they are dissimilar. Our results show a clear overall advantage of low similarity in categorization performance, but no effect of presentation schedule. Also, alternation between categories is shown to result in better performance than the blocked condition with more dissimilar stimuli.

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