Influences of communication on categorisation and similarity

Braisby, Nicholas (2006). Influences of communication on categorisation and similarity. In: Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 28, 28 Jul 2006, Vancouver, Canada, pp. 107–112.



This paper reports three experiments that investigate the influence of pragmatic, communicative factors on categorization. Little attention has been given to the role played by pragmatic factors such as the intended audience and purpose of communication. Experiment 1 establishes baseline measures of categorization and similarity for a range of exemplars of biological categories. Experiment 2 reveals that the judged categorization and similarity of these exemplars is affected by the audience to whom such judgments would be communicated. Experiment 3 reveals that these judgments are also affected by the communicative purpose of the categorization. In combination, these data suggest that
pragmatic factors have systematic effects on similarity and categorization, and suggestions are made as to how these might be explained.

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