What makes a best exemplar?

This paper is part of a broader multilingual research project that addresses the relationships between affective phenomena (as units of personal experience), concepts (as units of cognitive processing) and the lexical items we use in talking about affective experience (as units of verbal communication. The focus will be here on data obtained in six Scandinavian and Romance languages (N=1093) with the help of a reasoning task that supplemented a free listing and a ranking task. The task was specifically designed for assessing whether informants’ choice of best (or most typical) exemplars of a superordinate category in the affective domain relies on a similarity-based strategy of attribute matching and family resemblance computation as suggested by prototype theory. As a consequence, the instructions were formulated so to encourage the use of a similarity-based comparison in justifying the choice of best exemplars. The responses provided by the informants show instead that participants may resort to a variety of alternative criteria (frequency, complexity, basicness, intensity, cultural or personal meaning, etc.) for assigning best-exemplar status. It is contended that such alternative criteria are consistent with a theory- (or knowledge-) based approach to concepts and categorization and that a hybrid, multi-strategy approach is more suitable in order to account for categorization in the affective domain.

Keywords: emotions, categorization, prototype, knowledge-based, Scandinavian, Romance

References

Alonso-Arbiol,  I., P.R. Shaver, C. Fraley, B. Oronoz, E. Urzurrunzaga and R. Urizar (2006).  Structure of the Basque emotion lexicon. Cognition and Emotion 20 (6): 836-865.

Barsalou, L.W. (1985). Ideals, central tendency, and frequency of instantiation as determinants of graded structure in categories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 11 (4): 629-654.

Fehr B. and J.A. Russell (1984). Concept of Emotion viewed from a prototypical perspective.  Journal of Experimental Psychology 113: 464-486.

Fontaine, J.R.J., Y.H. Poortinga, B. Setiadi and S.S. Markan (1996). The cognitive structure of emotions in Indonesia and the Netherlands: A preliminary report. In G. Hector, A. Blanco and G. James (eds.), Key Issues in Cross-cultural Psyhcology.London: Swets & Zeitlinger Publishers. pp. 159-171.

Fontaine, J.R.J., Y.H. Poortinga, B. Setiadi and S.S. Markan (2002). Cognitive structure of emotion terms in Indonesia and The Netherlands. Cognition and Emotion 16 (1): 61-86.

Gerber, E.R. (1985).  Rage and obligation: Samoan emotions in conflict. In G.M. White and J. Kirkpatrick (eds.), Person, Self and Experience: Exploring Pacific Ethnopsychologies.  Berkeley: University of California Press.  pp. 121-167.

Hiatt, L.R. (1978). Classification of the emotions: An ontogenetic perspective. Language Sciences 6 (1): 129-156.

Howell, S. (1981). Rules not words. In P. Heelas and A. Lock (eds.), Indigenous Psychologies: The Anthropologies of the Self. San Diego, CA: Academy Press.  pp. 133-143.

Levy, R.I. (1973). Tahitians: Mind and Experience in the Society Islands. The University of Chicago Press.

López, A., S. Atran, S., J.D. Coley, D.L. Medin and E.E. Smith (1997). The tree of life: Universal and cultural features of folkbiological taxonomies and inductions. Cognitive Psychology 32 (3): 251-295.

Lutz, C. (1986). Emotion, thought and estrangement: Emotion as cultural category. Cultural Anthropology 1: 287-309.

Komatsu, L.K. (1992). Recent views of conceptual structure. Psychological Bulletin 112 (3): 500-526.

Matsuyama, D., H. Hama, Y. Kawamura and H. Mine (1978). An analysis of emotional words. The Japanese Journal of Psychology 49: 229-232.

Murphy, G.L. and D.L. Medin (1985). The role of theories in conceptual structure. Psychological Review 92 (3): 289-316.

Niedenthal, P., C. Auxiette, A. Nugier, N. Dalle, P. Bonin and M. Fayol (2004). A  prototype analysis of  the French category emotion. Cognition and Emotion 18 (3): 289-312.

Machery, E. (2009). Doing Without Concepts. New York: Oxford University Press.

Poole, F.J.P. (1985). Coming into social being: Cultural images of infants in Bimin-Kuskusmin folk psychology. In G.M. White and J. Kirkpatrick (eds.), Person, Self, and Experience: Exploring Pacific ethnopsychologies.  Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 183-242.

Rosch, E. (1975a). Cognitive representations of semantic categories. Journal of Experimental Psychology 104 (3): 192-233.

Rosch, E. (1975b). Cognitive reference points. Cognitive Psychology 7: 532-547.

Rosch,  E. And C.B. Mervis (1975). Family  resemblances:  Studies  in  the  internal structure of categories. Cognitive Psychology 7: 573-605.

Rosch,  E. (1978). Principles of categorization. In E. Rosch and B.B. Lloyd  (eds.), Cognition and Categorization. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.  pp. 27-48.

Rosch E., C. Simpson and S.B. Miller (1976). Structural bases of typicality effects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 2 (4): 491-502.

Sauciuc, G.A. (2011). Categorization in the affective domain. In B. Kokinov, A. Karmiloff-Smith and N. Nersessian (eds.), European Perspectives on Cognitive Science, New Bulgarian University Press,

Shaver, P., J. Schwartz, D. Kirson and C. O'Connor (1987). Emotion knowledge: Further exploration of a prototype approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52 (6): 1061-1086.

Shaver, P.R., S. Wu and J.C. Schwartz (1992). Cross-cultural similarities and differences in emotion and its representation: A prototype approach. Review of Personality and Social Psychology13: 175-212.

Shaver, P.R., U. Murdaya and C. Fraley (2001). Structure of the Indonesian emotion lexicon. Asian Journal of Social Psychology 4: 201-224.

Smith, E.E. and D.L. Medin (1981). Categories and concepts. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Smith, K.D. and D. Tkel-Sbal (1995). Prototype analysis of emotion terms in Palau, Micronesia.  In J.A. Russell,  J.M. Fernández-Dols, A.S.R. Manstead and J.C. Wellenkamp (eds.), Everyday Conceptions of Emotions.Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publisherspp. 85-102.

Smith J.J., L. Furbee, K. Maynard, S. Quick and L. Ross (1995). Salience counts: A domain analysis of English color terms. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 5 (2): 203-216.

Smith, S.T. and K.D. Smith (1995). Turkish emotions concepts: A prototype approach. In J.A. Russell,  J.M. Fernández-Dols, A.S.R. Manstead and J.C. Wellenkamp (eds.), Everyday Conceptions of Emotions.Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.  pp. 103-119.

Wierzbicka, A. (1999).  Emotional universals.  Language Design 2: 23-69.

Zammuner L.V. (1998). Concepts of emotion: “Emotionness” and dimensional ratings of Italian emotion words. Cognition and Emotion 12 (2): 243-272.

Download

Download full text of the article as PDF