Expertise and Category-Based Induction

Julia Beth Proffitt*, John D. Coley, Douglas L. Medin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


The authors examined inductive reasoning among experts in a domain. Three types of tree experts (landscapers, taxonomists, and parks maintenance personnel) completed 3 reasoning tasks. In Experiment 1, participants inferred which of 2 novel diseases would affect "more other kinds of trees" and provided justifications for their choices. In Experiment 2, the authors used modified instructions and asked which disease would be more likely to affect "all trees." In Experiment 3, the conclusion category was eliminated altogether, and participants were asked to generate a list of other affected trees. Among these populations, typicality and diversity effects were weak to nonexistent. Instead, experts' reasoning was influenced by "local" coverage (extension of the property to members of the same folk family) and causal-ecological factors. The authors concluded that domain knowledge leads to the use of a variety of reasoning strategies not captured by current models of category-based induction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-828
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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