Modeling Learning of Relational Abstractions via Structural Alignment


Learning abstract relationships is an essential capability in human intelligence. Christie & Gentner (2010) argued that comparison plays a crucial role in such learning. Structural alignment highlights the shared relational structure between compared examples, thereby making it more salient and accessible for subsequent use. They showed that 3-4 year old children who compared examples in a word-extension task showed higher sensitivity to relational structure. This paper shows how a slight extension to an existing analogical model of word learning (Lockwood et al 2008) can be used to simulate their experiments. This provides another source of evidence for comparison as a mechanism for learning relational abstractions.

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