Categorization is a fundamental cognitive function in which a large number of items are placed into a smaller number of groups (usually two or more). Category learning begins in infancy and continues throughout the lifespan. This entry discusses the important aspects of categorization and its study, outlining the development of category learning from childhood through adulthood into later life.


Categorization involves mapping multiple individual items into a single conceptual representation that can be used to make predictions about new items encountered in the world. Categorization research concerns itself with understanding the nature of these representations and how they are learned from experience. Theories of categorization posit that individual items are composed of features (e.g., color, shape, size) and that categories are represented by relationships between features. ...

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