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Supervised versus unsupervised categorization: Two sides of the same coin?

Pothos, E. M., Edwards, D. J. & Perlman, A. (2011). Supervised versus unsupervised categorization: Two sides of the same coin?. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64(9), pp. 1692-1713. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2011.554990


Supervised and unsupervised categorization have been studied in separate research traditions. A handful of studies have attempted to explore a possible convergence between the two. The present research builds on these studies, by comparing the unsupervised categorization results of Pothos et al. (submitted; 2008) with the results from two procedures of supervised categorization. In two experiments, we tested 375 participants with nine different stimulus sets, and examined the relation between ease of learning of a classification, memory for a classification, and spontaneous preference for a classification. After taking into account the role of the number of category labels (clusters) in supervised learning, we found the three variables to be closely associated with each other. Our results provide encouragement for researchers seeking unified theoretical explanations for supervised and unsupervised categorization, but raise a range of challenging theoretical questions.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology on 04/08/2011, available online:
Publisher Keywords: Supervised categorization, Unsupervised categorization, Categorization models
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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