Prototypes and particulars: Geometric and experience-dependent spatial categories

John P. Spencer, Alycia M. Hund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

71 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