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When Induction Meets Memory: Evidence for Gradual Transition From Similarity-Based to Category-Based Induction


  • This research was a part of dissertation research conducted by Anna Fisher at the Ohio State University and it supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (BCS 0078945 and REC 0208103) to Vladimir M. Sloutsky. We would like to thank Heidi Kloos, Aaron Yarlas, and three anonymous reviewers for their feedback.

concerning this article manuscript should be addressed to Vladimir M. Sloutsky, Center for Cognitive Science, 208C Ohio Stadium East, 1961 Tuttle Park Place, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210. Electronic mail may be sent to


The ability to perform induction appears early; however, underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Some argue that early induction is category based, whereas others suggest that early induction is similarity based. Category- and similarity-based induction should result in different memory traces and thus in different memory accuracy. Performing induction resulted in low memory accuracy in adults and 11-year-olds, whereas 5-, and 7-year-olds were highly accurate (Experiment 1). After training to perform category-based induction, 5- and 7-year-olds exhibited patterns of accuracy similar to those of adults (Experiment 2). Furthermore, 7-year-olds, but not 5-year-olds, retained this training over time (Experiment 3). With novel categories, even adults performed similarity-based induction, exhibiting high memory accuracy (Experiment 4). These results suggest a gradual transition from similarity- to category-based induction with familiar categories.