Differences in Conceptual Organization Among Types of Wine Experts: The Impact of Goals on Representation

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Most cognitive research on conceptual structure has studied undergraduate populations and either natural (biological) or artificial (experiment-specific) categories. This project investigates how people with extensive, rich knowledge about a complex real-world domain organize and use that knowledge. The research extends prior work on differences among types of experts within biological domains (e.g., Medin et al., 1997, Proffitt et al., 2000, Medin et al., 2005) to explore these issues within a non-biological domain (wine). Because objects in this domain do not fall into a clear hierarchical taxonomy, this research provides an opportunity to explore issues related to the cross-classification of objects (Ross & Murphy, 1999). Another major focus of the research is the impact of differences in goals and domain-related activity on conceptual organization and use. The researcher interviewed 3 types of wine experts (connoisseurs, retailers, and winemakers) to assess their expertise and identify behavioral differences among the groups. The 30 experts sorted 40 wine labels and generated category names for each group they created in a multi-level hierarchy and had the opportunity to repeat the process up to 2 more times. To test the robustness of the categories generated during the first session, several months later 24 of the original experts completed a series of tasks including category membership and typicality judgments, similarity judgments, and an open-ended inference task. >In their sorts, the most common category types focused on color, region, and grape varietal. A common pattern was the combination of multiple category types--within a sort, within a level of a sort, and even within a category. The results of the second session found that the leading categories from the sorts were also important for the inference tasks, but the type of property, more than the type of expert, influenced which types of categories drove the inference.

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  • 09/18/2018
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