City Research Online

On the adequacy of current empirical evaluations of formal models of categorization

Wills, A. J. & Pothos, E. M. (2012). On the adequacy of current empirical evaluations of formal models of categorization. Psychological bulletin, 138(1), pp. 102-125. doi: 10.1037/a0025715


Categorization is one of the fundamental building blocks of cognition, and the study of categorization is notable for the extent to which formal modeling has been a central and influential component of research. However, the field has seen a proliferation of noncomplementary models with little consensus on the relative adequacy of these accounts. Progress in assessing the relative adequacy of formal categorization models has, to date, been limited because (a) formal model comparisons are narrow in the number of models and phenomena considered and (b) models do not often clearly define their explanatory scope. Progress is further hampered by the practice of fitting models with arbitrarily variable parameters to each data set independently. Reviewing examples of good practice in the literature, we conclude that model comparisons are most fruitful when relative adequacy is assessed by comparing well-defined models on the basis of the number and proportion of irreversible, ordinal, penetrable successes (principles of minimal flexibility, breadth, good-enough precision, maximal simplicity, and psychological focus).

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of WillsAJpsychbull-REVISED.pdf]
Download (772kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login