Words activate categorization even before the category forming task has been offered

Abstract

The effect of language on category learning is an ongoing debate among researchers. According to previous research words can facilitate category formation even if they aren’t used as feedback. However in most research investigating language influence on category learning, the varying of verbal labels often correlates with varying of perceptual features. Such confound doesn’t allow to clarify if the language is a means of perception augmentation (language-feedback hypothesis) or a social marker for generalization (word-meaning-as-intention hypothesis). In the present experiment we separated the process of category learning from the label receiving. Two groups of subjects performed visual search task either with or without labels. Right after that task subjects had to form a category on the basis of new perceptual information added to the old one. As a result subjects from label condition form a category but subjects from the no-label condition didn’t. The given data agree with word-meaning-as-intention hypothesis.


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