Prototype abstraction and classification of new instances as a function of number of instances defining the prototype

Donald Homa, al et al

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

87 Scopus citations


Investigated that ease of prototype abstraction and recognition of new instances belonging to the prototype by increasing the number of instances sorted together during original learning. 72 undergraduates sorted distorted dot patterns into groups of 3, 6, and 9 instances, each group containing distortions generated from a single prototype. Following the sorting task, 36 Ss were tested immediately on their ability to correctly classify old and new patterns as well as the prototype; the other 36 Ss were tested 4 days later. Correct classification of both the prototype and new instances increased as a function of the number of old instances sorted together in the original learning task. Old instances exhibited some forgetting over the delay, but neither the prototype nor new instances did. It is concluded that the abstraction of a prototype undergoes repeated change as a function of the number of instances which define it, and that the ability to correctly recognize new exemplars of a concept is dependent upon the number of instances as well. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-122
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1973
Externally publishedYes



  • number of instances defining prototype, prototype abstraction & classification, college students

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