22 Concepts and Categorization
VIII. THOUGHT PROCESSES
Published Online: 26 SEP 2012
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition
How to Cite
Goldstone, R. L., Kersten, A. and Carvalho, P. F. 2012. Concepts and Categorization . Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 4:VIII:22.
- Published Online: 26 SEP 2012
Human knowledge is organized by concepts. Our access to the world is filtered through our concepts. Concepts allow us to communicate, to categorize objects and events into inductively powerful groups, to construct complicated thoughts out of more elementary mental building blocks, and to conserve memory resources by facilitating encodings that incorporate important rather than extraneous information. Alternative theories have proposed that concepts are represented by rules, prototypical category members, many specific exemplars, and structured theories. We consider empirical evidence bearing on these proposals, which, on balance, recommends pluralism, with different representations implicated in different situations. Although concepts are connected to one another in a dense conceptual network, it is also crucial for concepts to connect to the external world via perception and action, as well as language. We consider several theoretical and empirical arguments for specific mechanisms by which concepts are shaped by, and in turn shape, our perceptual and linguistic processes. Finally, we consider future directions for research on concepts and categorization, emphasizing links to other fields such as object recognition and developmental psychology, the development and testing of computational models, and applications of category learning to education.