Categorization and Naming in Children: Problems of Induction by Ellen M. Markman

By Ellen M. Markman

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Look for example at board-games, with their multifarious relationships. Now pass to card-games; here you find many correspondences with the first group, but many common features drop out, and others appear. When we pass next to ball-games, much that is common is retained, but much is lost-Are they all/amusing'? Compare chess with noughts and crosses. Or is there always wining and losing, or competition between players? Think of patience. In balIgames there is winning and losing; but when a child throws his ball at the wall and catches it again, this feature has disappeared.

Etc. overlap and criss-cross in the same way. (pp. 188-189) "Games" is not an isolated example. Many other categories seem to defy any simple definition. Inspired by the work of Rosch and her colleagues, there are now many psychological studies supporting the view that categories are organized around family resemblances among the members rather than around necessary and sufficient features (Rosch and Mervis 1975; Smith and Medin 1981; Mervis and Rosch 1981). This view states that categories are structured in a way similar to the resemblances that family members have to each other.

Four-year-olds benefited from both of these manipulations. Three-year-olds, however, were helped by the use of labels but not by seeing typical instances. Moreover, 3year-olds did just as well when Japanese labels were provided for these familiar superordinate categories as when the known English labels were provided. By 4 or 5 years of age, hearing a label will cause children to look for categorical relations even for superordinate level categories for which children do not have a ready label (Markman and Hutchinson 1984).

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