Perceived subjectivity and gradedness of artifactual and natural categories
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The question of whether beliefs of subjectivity account for differences in the gradedness of artifactual and natural categories was examined. Two studies established a relation between perceived subjectivity and category gradedness: Whereas beliefs of subjectivity (i.e., matter of opinion) corresponded to an increase in graded (i.e., continuous) category judgments, beliefs of objectivity (i.e., matter of fact) corresponded to an increase in absolute (i.e., discrete) category judgments. Individual differences in perceived subjectivity also demonstrated a positive relation of perceived subjectivity and category structure. In addition, two experiments tested a potential causal relation of perceived subjectivity and gradedness. Perceived subjectivity was manipulated as a contextual variable and category gradedness was measured across conditions. Results from two experiments replicated prior findings of a domain difference in category structure. However, evidence of a causal relation between perceived subjectivity and gradedness was not established. The finding of positive relation of perceived subjectivity and category structure supports theory-based representation and essentialist beliefs in categorization.
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