Temporal Dynamics of Categorization: Is There a Best of Both Worlds?

AbstractCategorization is a fundamental process in cognition, development, and education. Beginning early in life, infants and children learn categories of objects, people, and more, creating a conceptual framework for understanding the world. When entering formal schooling contexts, teachers present students with multiple examples of educational concepts with the hope that students will generalize these examples beyond the classroom. To later generalize knowledge, children must abstract the similarities and differences across examples of a category or concept. For instance, when children learn the category of “cat,” children must abstract across the examples of “cat” that they have experienced to notice the similarities (e.g., body shape) and differences (e.g., color). This knowledge will allow children to classify and generalize characteristics of “cat” to new cats.

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