Schematic influences on category learning and recognition memory

J Exp Psychol Gen. 2004 Dec;133(4):534-53. doi: 10.1037/0096-3445.133.4.534.


The results from 3 category learning experiments suggest that items are better remembered when they violate a salient knowledge structure such as a rule. The more salient the knowledge structure, the stronger the memory for deviant items. The effect of learning errors on subsequent recognition appears to be mediated through the imposed knowledge structure. The recognition advantage for deviant items extends to unsupervised learning situations. Exemplar-based and hypothesis-testing models cannot account for these results. The authors propose a clustering account in which deviant items are better remembered because they are differentiated from clusters that capture regularities. The function of clusters is akin to that of schemas. Their results and analyses expose connections among research in category learning, schemas, stereotypes, and analogy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Memory*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Reaction Time
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Stereotyping
  • Transfer, Psychology