basic-level category

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The level of specificity/generality of a concept within a conceptual hierarchy at which most people tend naturally to categorize it, usually neither the most specific nor the most general available category but the one with the most attributes distinctive of the concept in question. Thus, in most ordinary circumstances a cat is conceptualized and referred to as a cat rather than a quadruped (which would include dogs and other four-legged animals) or a tabby cat (which would exclude ginger toms and other cats). Also called a basic-level concept, a natural-level category or concept, or a natural category, but this latter term is avoided in careful usage. See also prototype theory.

Subjects: Psychology.

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