The importance of being nonalignable: A critical test of the structural alignment theory of similarity

Zachary Estes, Uri Hasson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

The structural alignment theory of similarity distinguishes 2 types of difference that may occur between stimuli: Alignable differences are those related to a commonality, whereas nonalignable differences are not related to a commonality. Alignment theory predicts that alignable differences should be more heavily weighted than nonalignable differences in similarity judgment. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrate that, contrary to this prediction, nonalignable differences exerted a greater impact than alignable differences in similarity and difference judgments of geometric stimuli. Experiment 3 revealed that the relative weight accorded a given difference was also affected by contextual constraints. Thus, although the experiments supported the validity of the distinction between alignable and nonalignable differences, results were discordant with the specific prediction of structural alignment theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1082-1092
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Volume30
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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

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