Ad hoc category restructuring

D.R. Little, Stephan Lewandowsky, E. Heit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Participants learned to classify seemingly arbitrary words into categories that also corresponded to ad hoc categories (see, e.g., Barsalou, 1983). By adapting experimental mechanisms previously used to study knowledge restructuring in perceptual categorization, we provide a novel account of how experimental and preexperimental knowledge interact. Participants were told of the existence of the ad hoc categories either at the beginning or the end of training. When the ad hoc labels were revealed at the end of training, participants switched from categorization based on experimental learning to categorization based on preexperimental knowledge in some, but not all, circumstances. Important mediators of the extent of that switch were the amount of performance error experienced during prior learning and whether or not prior knowledge was in conflict with experimental learning. We present a computational model of the trade-off between preexperimental knowledge and experimental learning that accounts for the main results.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1398-1413
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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