You can sweat the small stuff, too: Abstraction subordinates perceptual salience to the larger goal in a category learning paradigm

AbstractThree experiments investigated the role of conceptual abstraction in category learning. We found that people in a low-level mindset over-weighted global features in classifying novel exemplars whereas those in a high-level mindset did not (Experiments 1 and 3). The effect was on the learning process, independent of perceptual response preference (Experiment 3) and occurred despite evidence of perceptual global dominance for all groups during learning (Experiments 2 and 3). We conclude that abstraction can subordinate perceptual salience to the larger goal, integrating discrete encounters into a comprehensive representation of the underlying structure.

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