Core Constructs and Basic Categories.

G Douglas (
Sun, 5 Jan 1997 00:16:43 GMT

Hi Esteban and Devi,
The best general source for Rosch's work and other
views of category formation is probably the book : Women, Fire and Dangerous
Things, by George Lakoff (1987). Categories have been the subject of a long
debate among anthropologists and students of human/machine intelligence, and
Rosch is important because her work demonstrated the existence of folk
categories which are structured by 'family resemblance' rather than
precisely defined common features. They often centre loosely round a
prototype member which is a best example of the class concerned. She also
found that categories are built into a hierarchy of increasing abstraction,
(but not strictly a taxonomy); and there is a so-called Basic-Level of
categorization which is the level most quickly recognised as a perceptual
gestalt by adults, and most quickly learned by young children. It frequently
represents a level where a whole is articulated into functionally specific
parts. It is not the lowest most specific level nor the most abstract
however, but always somewhere in the middle of a hierarchy.
My curiosity was as to whether people choose constructs in some way
analogous to this, so that when we construe personalities , for example we
start from a median position of maximal salience and proceed to develop
strucytures both upwards and downwards from there. Perhaps there is some
example of this in an educational/learning context ?