Focal colors and Representativeness
Best examples of categories lie at the heart of two major debates in cognitive science,
one concerning universal focal colors across languages, and the other concerning the
role of representativeness in inference. Here we link these two debates. We show that
best examples of named color categories across 112 languages are well-predicted by a
rational model of representativeness, and that this model outperforms several natural
competitors. We conclude that categorization in the contested semantic domain of color
may be governed by general principles that apply more broadly in cognition, and that
these principles clarify the interplay of universal and language-specific forces in
J.T. Abbott, T. Regier, and T.L. Griffiths. Predicting focal colors with a
rational model of representativeness. Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Cognitive
Science Society, 2012.
J.T. Abbott, T.L. Griffiths, and T. Regier. Focal colors across languages are representative members of colors categories. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(40), 11178-1183. 2016.