People's notions of mental events - reasoning, planning, and so on - appear to possess a structure different from their notions of physical objects. The parts of a mental activity tend to be members of the same categories as their whole. For example, a part of planning, such as evaluating competing plans, is a type of thinking, as is planning itself. Parts of physical objects, however, rarely belong to the same categories as their whole. The core of an apple is not a kind of fruit, and the steering wheel of a car is not a kind of vehicle. Experiment 1 documents this difference by eliciting judgments about the part and kind relations for groups of physical objects, mental events, and scripts. Experiment 2 shows that this difference between domains is correlated with the degree to which the parts of these entities share their properties. Experiment 3 explores whether the difference is due to the boundedness of parts, their similarity, or their essentialness. The results are consistent with the theory that events are less bounded than objects; hence, there is less pressure to cross-classify the events and their parts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Language and Linguistics
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Linguistics and Language
- Artificial Intelligence