Written on September 16, 2007
“There are two kinds of people…..” (and many ways to divide people into two kinds!)
“Categorization is the process in which ideas and objects are recognized, differentiated and understood. Categorization implies that objects are grouped into categories, usually for some specific purpose.” (from Wikipedia)
A good introduction to the topic for the general reader can be found in The Mind’s New Science: A History of the Cognitive Revolution by Howard Gardner (New York: Basic Books, 1985, 1987) – Ch. 12 “A World Categorized.”
The work of Eleanor Rosch was instrumental in overturning the classical view of categories based on “necessary and sufficient conditions” in favor of a psychological approach to the structure of categories based on prototypes.
Rosch discusses her work on categorization in this transcribed interview: “Categories have what I called a graded structure of better and worse examples, and many categories have unclear boundaries”
Books on categorization:
- Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind by George Lakoff (Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1987). [listed first at both WorldCat and LibraryThing, the most popular book on the topic at both institutional and personal libraries]
- Beyond Labeling: The Role of Maternal Input in the Acquisition of Richly-Structured Categories (Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development) by Susan A Gelman et al; Society for Research in Child Development. (Chicago, IL : University of Chicago Press, 1998). (JSTOR)
- Categorization and Naming in Children: Problems of Induction (ACM Doctoral Dissertation Awards) by Ellen M Markman (Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1989).
- Categorization in Social Psychology by Craig McGarty (London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif. : SAGE Publications, 1999). [Search Inside the book available at Amazon]
- The Categorization of Spatial Entities in Language and Cognition (Human Cognitive Processing) ed. by Michel Aurnague; Maya Hickmann; Laure Vieu (Amsterdam ; Philadelphia : John Benjamins, 2007). [publisher's site has toc + "browse before you buy," requires ebrary reader (free installation)]
- Discourse and the Continuity of Reference: Representing Mental Categorization by Cornelia Zelinsky-Wibbelt (Berlin ; New York : Mouton de Gruyter, 2000). [Search Inside the book available at Amazon]
- Handbook of Categorization in Cognitive Science ed. by Henri Cohen and Claire Lefebvre (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2005) [Search Inside the book available at Amazon] includes neuroscientific approaches
- Knowledge Concepts and Categories (Studies in Cognition) ed. by Koen Lamberts; David R Shanks (Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1997). [Search Inside the book available at Amazon]
- Linguistic Categorization (Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics) (3rd ed.) by John R Taylor (New York : Oxford University Press, 2003)[Search Inside the book available at Amazon].
- Multiple Social Categorization ed. by Richard J Crisp; Miles Hewstone (Hove [England] ; New York : Psychology Press, 2006) [publisher's information]
- Similarity and Categorization ed. by Ulrike Hahn; Michael Ramscar (New York : Oxford University Press, 2001) [Search Inside the book available at Amazon]
- Systems of Nominal Classification (Language Culture and Cognition) by Gunter Senft (Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2000) [Search Inside the book available at Amazon]
related post: “books and resources on concepts”