Causal Status and Explanatory Goodness in Categorization

Jason Jameson, Dedre Gentner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Much research (e.g., Keil, 1989; Murphy & Medin, 1985; Rips, 1989) has emphasized the critical role that domain knowledge plays in categorization judgments. Recent instantiations of this view (e.g., Ahn, et al., 2000; Rehder & Hastie, 2001) have focused on characterizing how causal knowledge supports categorization decisions. We suggest that a more satisfactory account of categorization can be gained by considering the broader role that causal information plays in processes of explanation. An explanation-based perspective treats categorization as an inference to the best explanation (Murphy & Medin, 1985; Rips, 1989). This suggests that a critical source of constraints on categorization may come from a direct investigation of explanatory goodness. We present evidence that the causal status effect (e.g., Ahn, et al., 2000)—i.e., the phenomenon in which causes tend to be more heavily weighted than effects in categorization judgments—depends on the goodness of the explanation in which the causal information is embedded.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
EditorsVladimir Sloutsky, Brad Love, Ken McRae
PublisherCognitive Science Society
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)978-0-9768318-4-6
StatePublished - 2008


Dive into the research topics of 'Causal Status and Explanatory Goodness in Categorization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this