Competing Strategies in Categorization: Expediency and Resistance to Knowledge Restructuring

Stephan Lewandowsky, Mike Kalish, Thomas L. Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The authors investigated people's ability to restructure their knowledge when additional information about a categorization task is revealed. In 2 experiments, people first learned to rely on a fairly accurate (but imperfect) predictor. At various points in training, a complex relationship between 2 other predictors was revealed in a schematic diagram that could support perfect performance. In Experiment 1, people adopted the complex strategy when it was revealed at the outset but were unable to restructure their knowledge after the expedient predictor had been learned. In Experiment 2, expedient knowledge persisted even with an adaptive display. The persistence of expedient knowledge is explained by associative blocking of potential alternative cues. A 3rd experiment analyzed the strategies people use with and without the diagram. The study confirmed that the diagram, when presented at the outset, significantly alters people's approach to the task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1666-1684
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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