Prototypes and particulars: Geometric and experience-dependent spatial categories

John P. Spencer, Alycia M. Hund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


People use geometric cues to form spatial categories. This study investigated whether people also use the spatial distribution of exemplars. Adults pointed to remembered locations on a tabletop. In Experiment 1, a target was placed in each geometric category, and the location of targets was varied. Adults' responses were biased away from a midline category boundary toward geometric prototypes located at the centers of left and right categories. Experiment 2 showed that prototype effects were not influenced by cross-category interactions. In Experiment 3, subsets of targets were positioned at different locations within each category. When prototype effects were removed, there was a bias toward the center of the exemplar distribution, suggesting that common categorization processes operate across spatial and object domains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-37
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002

Cite this