This study was supported by a grant from Pitzer College. I would like to thank William Banks, Jessica Beagles-Roos, James Bogen, Christine Hepburn, Leah Light, Ronald Macaulay, Richard Tsujimoto, and an anonymous reviewer for useful criticisms of earlier drafts of this paper. Cecilia Beach and Peter Midford provided invaluable technical assistance.
The Cognitive Structure of Social Categories*
Version of Record online: 11 FEB 2010
© 1985 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Volume 9, Issue 3, pages 379–398, July 1985
How to Cite
Dahlgren, K. (1985), The Cognitive Structure of Social Categories. Cognitive Science, 9: 379–398. doi: 10.1207/s15516709cog0903_4
- Issue online: 11 FEB 2010
- Version of Record online: 11 FEB 2010
Support for the prototype theory of categorization was found in a study of the structure of social categories. Though occupational terms such as DOCTOR are socially defined, they do not have the classical structure their clear definitional origins would predict. Conceptions of social categories are richer and more complex than those of physical object categories and subjects agree upon them. Comparison of various instructions for eliciting attributes of categories showed that whether subjects are asked to define a term, give characteristics, or describe ways they recognize members of categories, the attributes they list contribute to a prototype structure. These data provide evidence against the view that prototype structure is relevant only to an identification procedure and not to the core of concepts, as has been suggested.