Shakers and Maracas: Action-Based Categorisation Choices in Triads Are Influenced by Task Instructions


Shipp, Vallée-Tourangeau, and Anthony (2014) used the triad task to show that when participants select items that ‘goes best with the target’, they tend to select the choice that shares both an action and a taxonomic relation. However such instructions are non-explicit and vague, and might encourage a strategy other than a categorical decision. The present experiment used the same triads as in Shipp et al. to test whether participants were actually engaging in a categorisation strategy. The task instructions were manipulated so that participants either selected the item that “goes best”, “goes best to form a category” or is “most similar” to the target. The results found no differences between the instructions of “goes best to form a category” and “goes best”. Therefore the triad task does encourage a natural categorisation strategy and differences in task instructions across research are a result of the stimuli used.

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