Of beasties and butterflies: Evidence for the stability and domain-specificity of individual differences in categorization


  • We would like to thank Mel Mark, Keith Nelson, Laura Landerman-Garber, David Shaffer, and two anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments on previous versions of this manuscript

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Previous research has failed to demonstrate unambiguously the relative stability across time and consistency across tasks of individual differences in categorization, or categorization breadth The present study of categorizing behavior in college students assesses breadth at each of four points in time over a six-week period Results are consistent with an interpretation of breadth as a highly stable individual difference variable, but one that is constrained by the nature of the stimulus sets employed High stability coefficients were observed for each of two redundant tasks In contrast, cross-task consistency indices were generally low Personality correlates of breadth were similarly weak and inconsistent Several variables are suggested that may attenuate the generality of categorization breadth The existence of multiple styles of categorization is discussed