Similarity in context

Robert L. Goldstone*, Douglas L. Medin, Jamin Halberstadt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Similarity comparisons are highly sensitive to judgment context. Three experiments explore context effects that occur within a single comparison rather than across several trials. Experiment i shows reliable intransitivities in which a target is judged to be more similar to stimulus A than to stimulus B, more similar to B than to stimulus C, and more similar to C than to A. Experiment 2 explores the locus of Tversky's (1977) diagnosticity effect in which the relative similarity of two alternatives to a target is influenced by a third alternative. Experiment 3 demonstrates a new violation of choice independence which is explained by object dimensions' becoming foregrounded or backgrounded, depending upon the set of displayed objects. The observed violations of common assumptions to many models of similarity and choice can be accommodated in terms of a dynamic property- weighting process based on the variability and diagnosticity of dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-255
Number of pages19
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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