Peculiarity doesn't trump ordinarity: On recognition memory for exceptions to the category rule


While exceptions to a regularity might be rare, categories that have exceptions are not. Previous studies on learning categories that have exceptions suggested special status of exceptional items in memory (e.g. Palmeri & Nosofsky, 1995, Sakamoto and Love, 2004). However, this might be true only for a special kind of exceptions – those that call for forming complex binding structures, and could be learned only if they are fully memorized. In the two experiments in this study, we show that memory for exceptions is not better than memory for regular category members (Experiment 1). On the contrary, both children and adults had better memory for the features of regular items (Experiment 2). In addition, adults, but not 4-year-olds showed better memory for the rule than for probabilistic features. The overall results challenge the idea of the special status of exceptions in memory.

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