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Category-Use Effects in Children


  • This research was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant to the first author. We would like to thank Kristy Attwooll and Laura Rodwell for their assistance in data collection. We would also like to thank the pupils, teachers, and parents of St. James Public School, Kotara South, Currambena Primary School, Lane Cove, St. Spyridon College, Kingsford, and Abbotsleigh School, Wahroonga, for their enthusiastic participation in the study. Parts of this research were presented at the 2003 biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Tampa Bay, Florida.

concerning this article should be sent to Brett K. Hayes, School of Psychology, The University of New South Wales, N.S.W., 2052, Australia. Electronic mail may be sent to


Three experiments examined the changes in category representation that take place when children use exemplars for tasks other than classification. In Experiments 1 and 2, 6- and 10-year-old children learned to classify exemplars of a novel category and then used the same exemplars in an inferential prediction task. In a subsequent classification task, features that were predictive for both classification and inference were classified more accurately than features that were predictive only of category membership. Experiment 3 showed that features with multiple uses were also more likely to be retrieved in feature listing. The findings show that children's category representations are affected by the way exemplars are used after they have been categorized.