Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Individual differences in the perception of similarity and difference

By Sabrina Simmons and Zachary Estes


Thematically related concepts like coffee and milk are judged to be more similar than thematically unrelated concepts like coffee and lemonade. We investigated whether thematic relations exert a small effect that occurs consistently across participants (i.e., a generalized model), or a large effect that occurs inconsistently across participants (i.e., an individualized model). We also examined whether difference judgments mirrored similarity or whether these judgments were, in fact, non-inverse. Five studies demonstrated the necessity of an individualized model for both perceived similarity and difference, and additionally provided evidence that thematic relations affect similarity more than difference. Results suggest that models of similarity and difference must be attuned to large and consistent individual variability in the weighting of thematic relations.\u

Topics: BF
Publisher: Elsevier BV
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2002). A solution to Plato’s problem: The latent semantic analysis theory of the acquisition, induction, and representation of knowledge. doi
  2. (2003). A tale of two similarities: Comparison and integration in conceptual combination. doi
  3. (2007). Beyond common features: The role of roles in determining similarity. doi
  4. (1997). Birds of a feather flock together: Similarity judgments with semantically rich stimuli. doi
  5. (2001). Causes of taxonomic sorting by adults: A test of the thematic-totaxonomic shift. doi
  6. (1984). Children’s sensitivity to constraints on word meaning: Taxonomic versus thematic relations. doi
  7. (2004). Common and distinctive features in stimulus similarity: A modified version of the contrast model. doi
  8. (1979). Conceptual preference for thematic or taxonomic relations: A nonmonotonic age trend from preschool to old age. doi
  9. (1982). Context-independent and context-dependent information in concepts. doi
  10. (1966). Effect of orientation and of shape similarity on perceptual grouping. doi
  11. (1977). Features of similarity. doi
  12. (2000). Information processing at successive stages of decision making: Need for cognition and inclusion–exclusion effects. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, doi
  13. (1989). Intraconcept similarity and its implications for interconcept similarity. doi
  14. (1999). Is snow really similar to a shovel? Distinguishing similarity from thematic relatedness.
  15. (2007). Metamorphosis: Essence, appearance and behavior in the categorization of natural kinds. doi
  16. (1991). Need for cognition, causal processing, and memory for behavior. doi
  17. (1993). Respects for similarity. doi
  18. (1990). Similarity involving attributes and relations: Judgments of similarity and difference are not inverses. doi
  19. (1993). Splitting the difference: A structural alignment view of similarity. doi
  20. (1994). Structural alignment in comparison: No difference without similarity. doi
  21. (1997). Structure mapping in analogy and similarity. doi
  22. (1984). The efficient assessment of need for cognition. doi
  23. (2004). The importance of being nonalignable: A critical test of the structural alignment theory of similarity. doi
  24. (1982). The need for cognition. doi
  25. (1994). The role of similarity in categorization: Providing a groundwork. doi
  26. (1998). The University of South Florida word association, rhyme, and word fragment norms. doi
  27. (2001). Thematic relations in adults’ concepts. doi
  28. (1984). Weighting common and distinctive features in conceptual and perceptual judgments. doi
  29. (1999). What makes a man similar to a tie? Stimulus compatibility with comparison and integration. doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.