Influences of categorization on perceptual discrimination

J Exp Psychol Gen. 1994 Jun;123(2):178-200. doi: 10.1037//0096-3445.123.2.178.


Four experiments investigated the influence of categorization training on perceptual discrimination. Ss were trained according to 1 of 4 different categorization regimes. Subsequent to category learning, Ss performed a Same-Different judgment task. Ss' sensitivities (d's) for discriminating between items that varied on category-(ir)relevant dimensions were measured. Evidence for acquired distinctiveness (increased perceptual sensitivity for items that are categorized differently) was obtained. One case of acquired equivalence (decreased perceptual sensitivity for items that are categorized together) was found for separable, but not integral, dimensions. Acquired equivalence within a categorization-relevant dimension was never found for either integral or separable dimensions. The relevance of the results for theories of perceptual learning, dimensional attention, categorical perception, and categorization are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Color Perception
  • Concept Formation
  • Contrast Sensitivity
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Size Perception