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Keywords:

  • Analogy;
  • Similarity;
  • Structure-mapping;
  • Re-representation

Abstract

This research addresses the kinds of matching elements that determine analogical relatedness and literal similarity. Despite theoretical agreement on the importance of relational match, the empirical evidence is neither systematic nor definitive. In 3 studies, participants performed online evaluations of relatedness of sentence pairs that varied in either the object or relational match. Results show a consistent focus on relational matches as the main determinant of analogical acceptance. In addition, analogy does not require strict overall identity of relational concepts. Semantically overlapping but nonsynonymous relations were commonly accepted, but required more processing time. Finally, performance in a similarity rating task partly paralleled analogical acceptance; however, relatively more weight was given to object matches. Implications for psychological theories of analogy and similarity are addressed.