Concept formation

Goldstone, R. L., Hills, T. T., & Day, S. B. (2010).  Concept formation.  In. I. B. Weiner & W. E. Craighead (Eds.) The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology.  New York: John Wiley & Sons.  (pp. 381-383).

A concept is a mentally possessed idea or notion that can be used to categorize information or objects. Over the course of each person’s lifetime, thousands of concepts are learned, for nouns like corkscrew, justice, and doorknob, adjectives like green, symmetric, and beautiful, and verbs like kick, climb, and eschew. While some philosophers have maintained that we do not genuinely learn new concepts through induction (Fodor, 1988), most psychologists believe that concepts can be learned, and that the representational capacity of the learner increases as they acquire new concepts. Most efforts have been spent developing accounts of how people acquire and represent concepts, including models based on: rules, prototypes, exemplars, boundaries, and theories.

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