Basic Levels in Artificial and Natural Categories: Are All Basic Levels Created Equal?

Mary E. Lassaline, Edward J. Wisniewski, Douglas L. Medin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This chapter addresses the nature of the basic level of conceptual structure in both naturally occurring and artificially constructed categories. There is a description on some initial work on basic levels, as well as theories and metrics relevant to them. The relationship between artificial and natural category studies has important consequences for the models that have addressed basic level phenomena. These models typically have simulated the results of artificial category studies. Therefore, it is important to evaluate how well such studies reflect the true basic level phenomena involving natural stimuli. If the basic level emerges for the same reasons for artificial and for natural categories, then a theory that explains the basic level in one domain necessarily explains the basic level in the other. The chapter examines the relation between artificial and natural basic level categories and describes some recent research in the laboratory concerning the artificial basic levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-378
Number of pages52
JournalAdvances in Psychology
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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