Rosch’s two types of reasoning Essay

Rosch’s two types of reasoning

Eleanor Rosch, an American psychologist at Harvard, came up with a new paradigm in the field of cognitive psychology called prototype theory. She elaborately investigated on how human beings apply categorical reasoning in approaching various issues in day-to-day life. Consequently, she found that humans are able to solve complex concepts by simplifying them as much as possible. In some of her work she demonstrated that people would tend to label things and experiences not much on abstract definitions but by the best representative of the group denoted by that word (Hung, 2009). In this context, two types of reasoning are categorized on how human beings process information in the brain and thereby change of behavior.

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There are two types of theories designating these two categories of reasoning: classical theory and exemplar theory. Classical theory suggests that a category or a group comprises of a list of sufficient, and necessary, conditions. The main problem with this type of reasoning is that there is no clear cut distinction when categories are drawn and therefore too many exceptions; as well as fuzzy scenarios. The exemplar theory state that a category is examples of objects which have been graded and not a group with definite features. To assign an object to a certain category, a reference or central object is used from which all the members of the group are structured (Jonathan, 2009). These reference objects are termed as prototypes or best examples. All the other objects or members who do not belong to the category are atypical to the group and have certain degree of variations from the central member. For instance, it is easier for an individual to classify a table or a chair as a piece of furniture than to assign a stove into the same category. The only drawback with this type of reasoning is that the brain cannot hold all the examples in the list hence a tendency to forget.


Hung, J. (2009). Archive for the ‘categorical reasoning’ tag. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from
Jonathan, H.(2009). Monday Mentor: Eleanor Rosch. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from