On the equivalence of superordinate concepts

Edward J. Wisniewskia, Mutsumi Imai, Lyman Casey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Psychological studies of superordinates have generally treated them as equivalent. However, many languages distinguish mass superordinates (e.g., clothing) from count superordinates (e.g., vehicle). In the present paper, experimental evidence is presented which suggests that the two types of superordinates are conceptually distinct as well. One study showed that the members of mass superordinates more often co-occur. A second study showed that people more often interact with the members of mass superordinates in temporal proximity whereas people primarily interact with single members of count superordinates on a specific occasion. Also, properties that characterize an individual are a more salient aspect of count superordinates. These findings imply that mass superordinates refer to unindividuated groups of objects, united by spatial and functional contiguity. Two other studies supported this hypothesis by showing that the class inclusion relation between a single object and a category is stronger for count superordinates. Taken together, the findings suggest that mass superordinates are not true taxonomic categories. We relate the findings to previous views of superordinates and to the count/mass distinction in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-298
Number of pages30
JournalCognition
Volume60
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Sep

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Clothing
equivalence
Language
Psychology
clothing
Equivalence
inclusion
language
evidence
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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

On the equivalence of superordinate concepts. / Wisniewskia, Edward J.; Imai, Mutsumi; Casey, Lyman.

In: Cognition, Vol. 60, No. 3, 09.1996, p. 269-298.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Wisniewskia, Edward J. ; Imai, Mutsumi ; Casey, Lyman. / On the equivalence of superordinate concepts. In: Cognition. 1996 ; Vol. 60, No. 3. pp. 269-298.
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