Categorization Inside and Outside the Laboratory: Essays in Honor of Douglas L. Medin presents the state of knowledge on how people partition the world into categories. This volume in APA's Decade of Behavior series raises key questions about the nature and universality of naturally occurring concepts in human thinking. Researchers in this area have tended to assume that there are universal aspects of categorization and that crosscultural differences are relatively minor. However, the work showcased in this book suggests that categories can differ significantly across cultures with respect to fundamental human concepts such as space, time, and objecthood.

Traditionally, these categories have been studied using artificial stimuli in the laboratory, with the goal of developing real world applications. However, the contributors to this volume also study naturally occurring concepts in a variety of cultures and domains, and in this way are able to inform basic laboratory research in a productive way. This building of bridges across communities that do not frequently interact has been inspired by the pioneering work of cognitive psychologist Douglas L. Medin, to whom this book is dedicated.

Table of Contents




  1. Douglas L. Medin, His Life, and His Intellectual Heritage
    —Woo-kyoung Ahn, Robert L. Goldstone, Bradley C. Love, Arthur B. Markman, and Phillip Wolff

I. Language, Culture, Categories, and Induction

  1. "We Are All Flowering": A Cultural Account of the Naming of Plants Among the Tzotzil Maya
    —Norbert Ross
  2. Expressing Causation in English and Other Languages
    —Phillip Wolff, Bianca Klettke, Tatyana Ventura, and Grace Song
  3. Why Is the Concept "Living Thing" So Elusive? Concepts, Languages, and the Development of Folkbiology
    —Sandra Waxman
  4. Knowledge and Category-Based Induction
    —John Coley, Patrick Shafto, Olga Stepanova, and Elizabeth Baraff
  5. Defending Diversity
    —Evan Heit, Ulrike Hahn, and Aidan Feeney

II. Types of Categories

  1. On Different Types of Categories
    —Edward J. Wisniewski, Emily J. Clancy, and Richard N. Tillman
  2. Individuals and Their Concepts
    —Sergey Blok, George Newman, and Lance J. Rips
  3. Relational Categories
    —Dedre Gentner and Kenneth J. Kurtz

III. Category Learning and Category Use

  1. The Study of Concepts Inside and Outside the Laboratory: Medin Versus Medin
    —Gregory L. Murphy
  2. Beyond Classification Learning
    —Brian H. Ross, Seth Chin-Parker, and Michael Diaz
  3. What Are Categories and Why Are They Coherent?
    —Arthur B. Markman
  4. Modeling Learning Under the Influence of Culture
    —Bradley C. Love and Todd M. Gureckis
  5. Multimodal Simulation in Conceptual Processing
    —LawrenceW. Barsalou, Diane Pecher, Rene Zeelenberg, W. Kyle Simmons, and Stephan B. Hamann

IV. Concepts and Theories

  1. The Effect of Causal Theories on Mental Disorder Diagnosis
    —Woo-kyoung Ahn and Nancy S, Kim
  2. The Cradle of Categorization: Supporting Fragile Internal Knowledge Through Commerce With Culture and the World
    —Frank C. Keil

Author Index

Subject Index

About the Editors

Editor Bios

Woo-kyoung Ahn, PhD, is professor of psychology at Yale University. She received her PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 1990 and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan, both under the mentorship of Douglas L. Medin. She has also taught at the University of Louisville and Vanderbilt University. Her research interests include concept and causal learning and clinical reasoning. She is currently an associate editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Robert L. Goldstone, PhD, has served as professor in the psychology department and cognitive science program at Indiana University since 1991; that same year he received a PhD in psychology from the University of Michigan, where Douglas L. Medin was his mentor. He was awarded a 2000 American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution in Cognition and Learning and a 2004 Troland research award from the National Academy of Sciences. He is the current editor of Cognitive Science.

Bradley C. Love, PhD, graduated with a BA in cognitive and linguistic sciences in 1995 from Brown University and pursued a PhD in cognitive psychology at Northwestern University. Under the mentorship of Douglas L. Medin, Dr. Love completed his PhD in 1999 and joined the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin in the psychology department. His primary research interest is developing a mechanistic understanding of higher-level cognitive processes, such as those used in category learning and analogy.

Arthur B. Markman, PhD, is a professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin. His research examines analogy and similarity, categorization, and decision making. His other books include a textbook on cognitive psychology coauthored with Douglas L. Medin and Brian Ross and the book Knowledge Representation. He is a former executive officer of the Cognitive Science Society and is currently associate editor of Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.

Phillip Wolff, PhD, received his MA and PhD degrees from Northwestern University and is currently an assistant professor at Emory University. His research focuses on the relationship between language and cognition, with particular emphasis on computational models of causal meaning and reasoning. His interests also include the acquisition of word meaning in first and second language learners.

Note: The order in which the editors are listed for this volume is alphabetical. All contributed equally to this project.