Evaluation of exemplar-based generalization and the abstraction of categorical information

Jerome R. Busemeyer*, Gerald I. Dewey, Douglas L. Medin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Examined whether a pure, exemplar-based abstraction process is an adequate model of category learning or whether it is necessary to postulate an additional prototype-abstraction process. D. Homa et al (see record 1982-11301-001) examined this question in an experiment in which Ss classified high-level distortions of prototype patterns into categories and were later given transfer tests that included new, old, and prototype exemplars. Based on quantitative discrepancies from a pure, exemplar-based model, Homa et al argued that it was necessary to recognize the operation of a prototype-abstraction process in order to fully explain their results. However, Homa et al never actually fit the exemplar plus prototype model to the data to determine if indeed the additional prototype process could explain the deviations from the pure exemplar model. The present study compared the pure exemplar model with a mixed (exemplar plus prototype) model and did not find consistent evidence requiring the postulation of an additional prototype-abstraction process. These results point out the difficulty of distinguishing alternative classification models. (7 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)638-648
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 1984


  • exemplar based vs prototype abstraction processes as model of category learning, extension of work of D. Homa et al

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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