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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
sweeping statement/generalization
▪ He prefers a complicated sentence to a sweeping statement.
▪ Of course, this is usually so, but I am having little niggling doubts about such a sweeping statement.
▪ This is a sweeping statement which makes little obvious sense on first reading, so let us dissect it more carefully.
▪ Those who reject generalization insist that history consists of unique and separate events.
▪ Although they embody a real-world claim about how agents are motivated, they function more like a paradigm than a generalization.
▪ Comparison of evidence from other countries or geographical regions would seek to confirm this generalization.
▪ In our example, the data seem too contradictory to support any clear generalization about gender and voting.
▪ In such schemes generalization is regarded as a process applicable to different areas of content.
▪ Nor is science concerned with just the kinds of generalization that make up a theory of determinism with respect to our lives.
▪ Sometimes the phenomena are so complicated or the evidence is so mixed that no generalization is possible.
▪ The limited body of mathematical results describing chaotic control networks makes generalization difficult.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Generalization \Gen`er*al*i*za"tion\, n. [Cf. F. g['e]n['e]ralisation.]

  1. The act or process of generalizing; the act of bringing individuals or particulars under a genus or class; deduction of a general principle from particulars.

    Generalization is only the apprehension of the one in the many.
    --Sir W. Hamilton.

  2. A general inference.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

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


n. (standard spelling of from=American spelling from2=Oxford British spelling lang=en generalisation)

  1. n. the process of formulating general concepts by abstracting common properties of instances [syn: abstraction, generalisation]

  2. reasoning from detailed facts to general principles [syn: generalisation, induction, inductive reasoning]

  3. an idea having general application; "he spoke in broad generalities" [syn: generalisation, generality]

  4. (psychology) transfer of a response learned to one stimulus to a similar stimulus [syn: generalisation, stimulus generalization, stimulus generalisation]


A generalization ( or generalisation) is a concept in the inductive sense of that word, or an extension of the concept to less-specific English or mathematical criteria. Generalizations posit the existence of a domain or set of elements, as well as one or more common characteristics shared by those elements (thus creating a conceptual model). As such, they are the essential basis of all valid deductive inferences. The process of verification is necessary to determine whether a generalization holds true for any given situation.

The concept of generalization has broad application in many related disciplines, sometimes having a specialized context or meaning.

Of any two related concepts, such as A and B, A is a "generalization" of B, and B is a special case of A, if and only if

  • every instance of concept B is also an instance of concept A; and
  • there are instances of concept A which are not instances of concept B.

For instance, animal is a generalization of bird because every bird is an animal, and there are animals which are not birds ( dogs, for instance). (See also: Specialisation (biology)).

Generalization (disambiguation)

The following article titles contain the word generalization or generalizations:

  • Derivative (generalizations), fundamental construction of differential calculus
  • Universal generalization, a rule in predicate logic
  • Generalization error, in machine learning, the modal function that measures how far a student machine is from a teacher machine
  • Hasty Generalization, a logical fallacy of faulty generalization
  • Generalizations of Fibonacci numbers, in mathematics
  • Generalizations of Pauli matrices, in mathematics, physics, and quantum information
  • Categorical imperative, redirect from "Generalization in Ethics"
Generalization (learning)

Generalization is the concept that humans and animals use past learning in present situations of learning if the conditions in the situations are regarded as similar. For example, if a person has learned in the past that every time they eat an apple, their throat becomes itchy and swollen, they might assume they are allergic to all fruit. When this person is offered a banana to eat, they reject it upon assuming they are also allergic to it through generalizing that all fruits cause the same reaction. Although this generalization about being allergic to all fruit based on experiences with one fruit could be correct in some cases, it may not be correct in all. Both positive and negative effects have been shown in education through learned generalization and its contrasting notion of discrimination learning.

Generalization is understood to be directly tied to the transfer of knowledge across multiple situations. Generalization allows humans and animals to recognize the similarities in knowledge acquired in one circumstance, allowing for transfer of knowledge onto new situations. This idea rivals the theory of situated cognition, instead stating that one can apply past knowledge to learning in new situations and environments.

Generalization is shown to have implications on the use of the spacing effect in educational settings. In the past, it was thought that the information forgotten between periods of learning when implementing spaced presentation inhibited generalization. In more recent years, this forgetting has been seen as promoting generalization through repetition of information during each occasion of spaced learning. The effects of gaining long-term generalization knowledge through spaced learning can be compared with that of massed learning (lengthy and all at once; for example, cramming the night before an exam) in which a person only gains short-term knowledge, decreasing the likelihood of establishing generalization.

A specific type of generalization, fear generalization, occurs when a person associates fears learned in the past through classical conditioning to similar situations, events, people, and objects in their present. When fear generalization becomes maladaptive it is connected to many anxiety disorders. This maladaptation is often referred to as the overgeneralization of fear and can also lead to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder.

Generalization has been shown to be refined and/or stabilized after sleep.

In scientific studies looking at generalization, a generalization gradient is often used. This tool is used to measure how often and how much animals or humans respond to certain stimuli, depending on whether the stimuli are similar or different. For example, when measuring responses to color, it is expected that subjects will respond to colors similar to each other, like shades of pink after being exposed to red, as opposed to a non-similar shade of blue.

Usage examples of "generalization".

And how beautifully Montaigne combines the generalization with the anecdote, the homily with the autobiographical reminiscence!

You are aware, since you sent her, that Carol Endermann spent the last weekend in Centennial advising me of your gratification that the work was going so well and of your disappointment that I was sending you too few scintillating quotes and summary generalizations.

Greg proved many of the generalizations about science nerds, but the city was damned lucky to have someone this smart.

Molly Grue grumbled some savage generalization about wizards as a class, but the men shouted with quick delight, throwing one another into the air.

The past lived in her memory as a bright, changeful dream, varying from one pleasure to another, with an ever-shifting background of fair, foreign towns and cities, Kursaals, palaces, salons, gardens, mountains, and lakes, and quiet green nooks of country--all, as it seemed to her, with the power of generalization that seizes on the most salient points, and takes them as types of the whole, shining in sunlight that never clouded, under clear blue skies that never darkened.

Orientalist generalizations, we find ourselves having to consider the process of lexicographical and institutional consolidation peculiar to Orientalism.

I have extracted from the seamless web of the life of my chicks, pecking or avoiding beads, shaking their heads or backing away, peeping and twittering, are abstract generalizations that I have drawn from many hundreds of thousands of individual acts by individual birds that I have observed.

It is easy to call these changes by the name allotropism, but not the less do they confound our hasty generalizations.

Generalizations which respectively affirm that all the angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles, or that the square of the hypothenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides, rest upon an entirely different basis of proof from those upon which the Generalizations rest which respectively assert that water is composed of certain chemical constituents combined in certain proportions, or that the nerves are the instruments of sensation and of motion.

Orient, power that dwelt in the new, scientifically advanced techniques of philology and of anthropological generalization.

The complexity is quantified by a number called the dimension of the strange attractor, which is a natural generalization of the ordinary concept of dimension.

According to this view, with adequate information it would be possible to trace the mental process in virtue of which arise such expectations of futurity, and to discover the methods of their gradual modification and eventual supersession by generalizations founded on experience more accurate and extensive.

I have extracted from the seamless web of the life of my chicks, pecking or avoiding beads, shaking their heads or backing away, peeping and twittering, are abstract generalizations that I have drawn from many hundreds of thousands of individual acts by individual birds that I have observed.

The Euclidean space of N dimension, is a natural generalization of the 2-dimensional Euclidean plane, where the square of the total distance between two points is the sum of the squares of their separation in each of the N dimensions.

The libs paint with labels and broad generalizations, hoping to color our opinions of each other.