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generalization

[jen-er-uh-luh-zey-shuh n] /ˌdʒɛn ər ə ləˈzeɪ ʃən/
noun
1.
the act or process of generalizing.
2.
a result of this process; a general statement, idea, or principle.
3.
Logic.
  1. a proposition asserting something to be true either of all members of a certain class or of an indefinite part of that class.
  2. the process of obtaining such propositions.
4.
Psychology.
  1. Also called stimulus generalization. the act or process of responding to a stimulus similar to but distinct from the conditioned stimulus.
  2. Also called response generalization. the act or process of making a different but similar response to the same stimulus.
  3. Also called mediated generalization. the act or process of responding to a stimulus not physically similar to the conditioned stimulus and not previously encountered in conditioning.
  4. the act or process of perceiving similarity or relation between different stimuli, as between words, colors, sounds, lights, concepts or feelings; the formation of a general notion.
Origin
1755-1765
1755-65; generalize + -ation
Can be confused
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for generalization
  • From only a well-designed random sample would a generalization to a population or subpopulation be valid.
  • Nonetheless, that's the kind administrators mostly impose so his point is valid despite the unwarranted generalization.
  • Oh, and a generalization to all politicians, in or out of the majority.
  • Biologists have asked why, and the answer is pretty clear-cut, leading to yet another generalization.
  • But the generalization as such is problematic unless other things being equal.
  • The point in that statement is that children are naturally curious, a generalization that stands on remarkably firm ground.
  • It is technically true, but is a gross generalization.
  • Attend national conferences that attract scholars in your area of specialization and generalization.
  • As always, to prove a generalization wrong, all one has to do is cite one exception.
  • So somehow or other the generalization doesn't work for me.
British Dictionary definitions for generalization

generalization

/ˌdʒɛnrəlaɪˈzeɪʃən/
noun
1.
a principle, theory, etc, with general application
2.
the act or an instance of generalizing
3.
(psychol) the evoking of a response learned to one stimulus by a different but similar stimulus See also conditioning
4.
(logic) the derivation of a general statement from a particular one, formally by prefixing a quantifier and replacing a subject term by a bound variable. If the quantifier is universal (universal generalization) the argument is not in general valid; if it is existential (existential generalization) it is valid
5.
(logic) any statement ascribing a property to every member of a class (universal generalization) or to one or more members (existential generalization)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for generalization
n.

1761, "act of generalizing," from generalize + -ation. Meaning "a general inference" is from 1794.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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generalization in Medicine

generalization gen·er·al·i·za·tion (jěn'ər-ə-lĭ-zā'shən)
n.

  1. The act or an instance of generalizing.

  2. A principle, a statement, or an idea having general application.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for generalization

in psychology, the tendency to respond in the same way to different but similar stimuli. For example, a dog conditioned to salivate to a tone of a particular pitch and loudness will also salivate with considerable regularity in response to tones of higher and lower pitch. The generalized response is predictable and orderly: it will measure less than that elicited by the original tone and will diminish as the new tone departs increasingly from the original. Similar behaviour is observed in humans, as children learning to talk may call anything that can be sat upon "chair" or any man "daddy." Adults conditioned by mild electric shock to fear a certain word will respond with symptoms of anxiety to any synonym of that word; in this instance, physical similarity, the usual basis of generalization, is less important than prior learning. Responses may also be generalized, allowing an individual to take an alternative course of action if the usual response is for some reason precluded. Learning may be considered a balance of generalization and discrimination (the ability to respond to differences among stimuli). An imbalance can lead to negative results. For example, a child who is scared by a man with a beard may fail to discriminate between bearded men and generalize that all men with beards are to be feared.

Learn more about generalization with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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