It’s a well-known fact that we like to organize or point out factors of equivalence in just about anything. We do like to categorize everything and categories are always a part of our lives.
When we are shopping for gadgets or books online, we use categories in order to easily find the item that we want. The same is true when you are watch streaming services like Netflix, you use the built-in categories in order to find that movie that you like or what sort of genre that you are in the mood to watch.
We know that categories exist just about everywhere but do we really know them?
In this article, we’re going to try our best to define the category, provide examples, and some tips to help define them.
What is a Category?
At its simplest definition, a category is simply a classification of anything. It is a division of things or concepts which can be general or comprehensive. It’s the division in the system of
In psychology, a category is defined as, “a concept that functions to organize or point out aspects of equivalence among other concepts based on common features or similarity to a prototype.”
So if people or objects are divided into categories, they are divided into different groups in a way that the members of each group have similarities to each other in one way or more.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the origin of the word are as follows:
1580s, in Aristotle’s logic, “a highest notion,” from Middle French catégorie, from Late Latin categoria, from Greek kategoria “accusation, prediction, category,” verbal noun from kategorein “to speak against; to accuse, assert, predicate,” from kata “down to” (or perhaps “against;” ) + agoreuein “to harangue, to declaim (in the assembly),” from agora “public assembly” (from PIE root “to gather”).
The verb’s original sense of “accuse” had weakened to “assert, name” by the time Aristotle applied kategoria to his 10 classes of things that can be named. Exactly what he meant by it “has been disputed almost from his own day till the present” [OED]. Sense of “any very wide and distinctive class, any comprehensive class of persons or things” is from 1660s.
What are Examples of Categories?
There are many examples of categories that you can find, well, pretty much everywhere. For a relevant example, we will be providing the scientific categories of research.
- Behavioral Psychology: The systematic investigation of the mental phenomena that occur on human and other animals.
- Biology: This is the category for the study of life science.
- Biochemistry: The study of living organisms but with more emphasis on the process.
- Botany: This category is for the study of plants. This includes sub-topics like plant physiology, anatomy, pathology, and genetics.
- Chemistry: The category for the study of the composition of matter and how matter can change.
- Computer Science: The science of computer programs, computer languages, algorithms, and hardware.
- Ecology: The study about the interactions and relationships of living things.
- Engineering: The use of science, mathematics, and design principles to solve practical problems.
- Physics: The category for the study of matter and motion.
- Zoology: The study of animals.
As you can see, these categories will help students to pick a subject for their scientific research.
Another good example of categories is when you shop in an online marketplace like Amazon. If you visit Amazon, you will encounter an item in the top menu called Departments. This is where you can see many different categories such as:
- Books and Audibles
- Movies, Music and Games
- Electronics, Computer and Office
- Home, Garden, Pets and Tools
- Food and Grocery
- Beauty and Health
- Toys, Kids and Baby
- Clothing, Shoes, and Jewelry
- Sports and Outdoors
- Automotive and Industrial
For this example, shoppers can easily browse for products that they want based on these categories. For instance, if you want to buy a pair of earphones, you will likely need to browse under the Electronics, Computer and Office category.
Upon selecting that category, you will have to navigate more subcategories and be presented with a long list of earphones.
How do You Define Your Category?
If you are able to define your categories well, you are laying down the foundation for successful analysis. On the other hand, an improperly defined category can result in misleading or useless analysis.
In retail, there’s a method called the 8-step process category management which is an industry standard model. The steps are the following:
- Define the category.
- Define the role of the category.
- Assess the current performance.
- Set objectives and targets for each category.
- Devise an overall category.
- Devise specific tactics.
- Implementation phase.
- This is the review step which usually brings us back to step 1.
The Bottom Line
Categories are important for classifying or dividing things or concepts. However, you will need to define your categories first if you wish to communicate your categories effectively.
We are hoping that with this article, we are able to inform you some of the basic things that you need to know about categories, category examples, and how to define them properly.
Do you agree with these concepts of categorization? Anything else that you can share about the topic? Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments.