Gender and Cross-Cultural Differences In Identifying Prototypes

Essay by miryaiUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, April 2006

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The concept formations of prototypes are typically thought to be associated with previously explored subjects. This experiment was designed to test whether gender and ethnicity differences influence the choice of a prototypical object. Twenty-four students from Capilano College enrolled in Cognitive Psychology were surveyed. Of this group, five were males and nineteen were females. Objects included in this experiment were birds, airplanes, fish, fruit, chairs and bridges. Strong prototypical responses included things like the apple for fruit, the young crappie for fish, the passenger plane and the cartoon of the Golden Gate Bridge. However, contrary to the hypothesis of the researchers that gender and cultural differences would be found in identifying prototypes, this study found no significant variations.


A prototype is defined as being "an idealized representation of some class of objects or events" (Galotti, 2004). In this view of how concepts are stored and represented in our minds, objects need only to have features that are characteristic or typical to be included in a category (Galotti, 2004).

There are main categories that objects may be put in depending on their features and traits that are related to other somewhat similar instances (Galotti, 2004). The stronger the "family resemblance" is within a category will give it a higher chance of typicality (Galotti, 2004). The similarity of an object will rise when there are more characteristics familiar with each instance presented (Dopkins, S., & Ngo, C., 2001).

There are three basic groups that items may be categorized into: the basic level of categorization, the superordinate level of categories, and the subordinate level of categories (Galotti, 2004). A basic level category is something that contains members that are "maximally similar" to each other (Galotti, p. 251). Superordinate categories are those that contain within them many objects with some being dissimilar...