The Nameability Effect and its Importance for Category Learning



In this review, a new and important nameability effect — the effect of the ease of naming parts of objects on categorical learning — is discussed: new categories are more easily learned when the related objects consist of easy-to-name parts. Although the effect has only recently been described, studies have revealed its importance not only for understanding the nature of category learning, but also for research on the mechanisms of categorization, memory, and cognitive development in general. The origins of the nameability effect, methods of measuring it, and limitations in its manifestation related to task type and category type were also reviewed. Part of the review contains a description of the study of age-specific regularities of the nameability effect and the specifics of its use in adult-guided learning. The nameability effect is compared to the memorability of the stimulus. It is assumed that the nameability can correlate not only with memorability, but alsocausally determine the degree of ease of memorizing stimuli. It is emphasized that higher memorability can be an important factor in categorical learning. It seems important in the future to study the contribution of verbalization processes to the effect of memorability and categorical learning at the same time. The main conclusion of the review is that the nameability effect is an important factor in the success of categorical learning in adults and children from a certain age. This effect needs to be taken into account both in explaining the regularities of learning and in designing the material, for example, by assessing it for the level of nameability.

General Information

Keywords: categorisation, category learning, nameability, verbalisation, memory, cognitive development

Journal rubric: General Psychology

Article type: review article


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project number 20-013-00698.

Received: 21.10.2022


For citation: Abaltusov E.D., Afonin M.D., Kotova T.N., Kotov A.A. The Nameability Effect and its Importance for Category Learning [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia psikhologiia = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2023. Vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 119–128. DOI: 10.17759/jmfp.2023120113. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Elisey D. Abaltusov, Student, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Matvei D. Afonin, Student, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Tatyana N. Kotova, PhD in Psychology, Senior Researcher, Laboratory for the Cognitive Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Alexey A. Kotov, PhD in Psychology, Senior Researcher of the Laboratory for cognitive research, Department of Psychology,, National Research University 'Higher School of Economics, Sirius University of Science and Technology, Sochi, Russia, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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