Parts of activities: Reply to Fellbaum and Miller (1990)

Lance J. Rips*, Frederick G. Conrad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


If people believe that one activity is a kind of another, they also tend to believe that the second activity is a part of the first. For example, they assert that deciding is a kind of thinking and that thinking is a part of deciding. Fellbaum and Miller's (1990) explanation for this phenomenon is based on the idea that people interpret part of in the domain of verbs as a type of logical entailment. Their explanation, however, suffers from at least 2 deficiencies. First, it fails to account for parallel effects with nouns (e.g., a contest is a kind of an activity, and an activity is a part of a contest). Second, it contains a flaw that incorrectly predicts many activities to be parts of each other (e.g., coming is part of going and going part of coming). However, a hypothesis Rips and Conrad (1989) originally proposed for the kind-part reciprocal effect avoids both of these difficulties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-575
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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